Origin and varieties of Melon

The melon is one of the largest fruits (its weight can range between 700g and 4kg) and the highest in water content (up to 85% of its composition). In addition, it has other virtues such as beta-carotene (which in our body is converted into vitamin A), vitamin C and B9 that strengthen our immune system. It also contains potassium, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium.


Its origin dates back to ancient Egypt, where representations of this fruit have been found in tombs dating back to 2400 BC. It was formerly described as Apollo’s masterpiece since its numerous benefits were compared to those of the Sun. Already in modern Europe, the melon appeared in France at the end of the 19th century. XV, where it was widely consumed by the court. Christopher Columbus himself was the one who introduced this fruit to America, although at that time its size was no larger than an orange, it has experienced changes and variations over the centuries until we found the varieties we have today.

In Spain, the most melon-producing communities are Castilla La Mancha (with up to a third of the total national production), Murcia, Andalusia and the Valencian Community.

Regarding its varieties, we can distinguish between types and varieties of melon. Among the best-known types of melon that we can find:

  • Cantaloupe Melon: Spherical, with smooth skin, orange flesh, and smaller. They have a sweet and very aromatic flavor.
  • Galia melon: Spherical, but somewhat oval, it has greenish-white pulp and is not very consistent. It is not very sweet and is medium in size.
  • Honey Dew Melon: Also known as Winter Melon, it is more oval, has a yellow, smooth and soft rind. With a very juicy and sugary white pulp.
    Spanish or odorless green melon: It is the oval melon, darker in tone and the most common, in addition to having great resistance to transport and excellent conservation. It is in this type where we find different varieties, such as:
  • Toad skin: Its season is in summer, it has thin bark and dark spots. Its pulp is yellowish white, with little aroma, but very tasty and sweet.
    • Tendral: Originally from the southeast of the peninsula, it has a rough, thicker and more uniform skin, this facilitates its conservation. It has a white and sweet pulp.
    • Rochet: Smooth skin, but with wrinkles at the ends. It is more elongated, very sweet and with little aroma.
    • Villaconejos: Its skin has a kind of stretch marks on its entire surface. It has a brown color, a lot of white pulp and a very intense, juicy and fresh flavor.
    • Giant Black: This variety is rare to find commercially due to its enormous size (it can weigh up to 10kg). Producers usually grow it for their own consumption because it is very sweet, and it preserves so well that it can even be brought to Christmas in good condition.

We find many other types of melons that come from crosses made between different varieties as well as the so-called product modifications, where specific sizes are sought among others.

Melon harvesting season for later conservation in Spain

The melon harvesting season depends on many factors to take into account, such as the growing location itself, or the variety of melon that has been grown, since some are earlier than others.

As a general rule, it is harvested from the first hot months to the last, the period between spring and autumn. In areas with a warmer climate such as the Canary Islands, or the south-southeast of the peninsula, the harvest will be earlier than in the interior or north of the peninsula.

After harvesting, it is advisable to properly pre-cool the melon, at a temperature between 4-6ºC in the shortest possible time. Also, taking care of its humidity, which can be achieved through forced air.

Storage of melon for distribution

For proper storage of the melon after harvesting, every detail must be taken care of, since it is done during the hot months and that always works against food conservation.

After a first pre-refrigeration to lower its temperature, the variety of melon will be a key factor that will determine the effort required for correct conservation.
For example, Cantalupo or Galia melons are more perishable, however, they are less sensitive to cold, so they can be preserved for up to 2 weeks at low temperatures, between 0 and 4ºC.
On the other hand, those known as odorless melons, such as Piel de sapo, Tendral, etc., must have a somewhat higher temperature, between 7 and 10ºC in storage, and can be kept in good conditions for up to 6 weeks after harvest.

In any case, the optimal relative humidity for the conservation of melon should be between 85 and 90%, to preserve all its post-harvest quality. However, if they are subjected to high humidity for long periods of time, damage may occur on the surface of the melon.

The conservation technique consisting of treatment with ethylene degrades chlorophyll, which causes the harvested green melons to achieve a more yellowish color during the 10 days after its application, although, to achieve maximum effectiveness in this treatment, the melons must have been collected with a correct degree of maturity. However, this process is currently tending to disappear, since, although it is widely used in varieties such as Honey Dew, it is not as effective with others such as Cantaloupe, which is more sensitive to ethylene, and can cause excess ripening during its production. distribution and storage.

What problems can we encounter after harvesting the melon?
During storage or marketing of the melon, if it is not preserved as it should, different types of alterations can occur, both physiological and fungal.

  • Possible physiological alterations:
    • Sunburn.
    • Cold damage.
    • Hollow fruit.
    • Rajas.
    • Decomposition.
  • Possible fungal alterations:
    • Various diseases: Colletotrichum lagenarium, Cladosporium cucumerinum, Fusarium cucurbitae, Botrytis cinerea, or Rhizopus nigricans.
    • Bacteria: Erwinia aroideae, Pseudomonas lacrimans.

Therefore, it is very important to follow the conservation and storage instructions very carefully, not only to increase the useful life of the fruit, but also to avoid possible health problems for the consumer.

Transportation of melon in Spain and Europe

The main means of transport in Spain for the export of melon is by road, using refrigerated trucks, this accounting for up to 95% of the means chosen for transporting melon. This is due to the cost, speed and adaptability of this means of transport to production and marketing needs. The Spanish melon campaign is short and above all with a greater predisposition to the European market.

The main importers of melon from Spain in Europe are:

  1. France.
  2. Germany.
  3. United Kingdom.
  4. Netherlands.

Among these, they account for more than 65% of the total melon exports from Spain. Although, the majority of melons imported to Europe come from South America, specifically from countries such as Brazil, Chile or Costa Rica. Due to the season and scarcity of melon, many Spanish producers import melon from Senegal during the off-season in Spain.

From Spain, Murcia is the first province to export melons to Europe. In 2021, it exported up to 208,680 tons, which represented almost half of the total melon production that left Spain destined for other countries, with a value of just over 150 million euros.

At Antonio Marco, we know perfectly well the characteristics necessary for the storage, conservation and transportation of melons, and we also have the means and technology necessary to do it optimally.

Both our transporters and the staff of our logistics center are perfectly qualified and prepared to ensure that the melon arrives in the ideal conditions at its final destination, and thus help keep both Spain and its agricultural companies to continue leading exports. of fruits and vegetables in Europe.