Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Food Quality Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #346291

Research Project: Evaluation and Maintenance of Flavor, Nutritional and Other Quality Attributes of Fresh and Fresh-Cut Produce

Location: Food Quality Laboratory

Title: Consumer preference and physicochemical evaluation of organically grown melon

item Park, Eunhee
item Luo, Yaguang - Sunny
item MARINE, SASHA - University Of Maryland
item EVERTS, KATHRYNE - University Of Maryland
item MICALLEF, SHIRLEY - University Of Maryland
item Bolten, Samantha
item Stommel, John

Submitted to: Postharvest Biology and Technology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2018
Publication Date: 3/21/2018
Citation: Park, E., Luo, Y., Marine, S.C., Everts, K.A., Micallef, S.A., Bolten, S.J., Stommel, J.R. 2018. Consumer preference and physicochemical evaluation of organically grown melon. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 141:77-85.

Interpretive Summary: As the demand for organic produce continues to increase, organic melons not only have the potential to become a high-value crop for growers but also to contribute to the local economy. The production of organic melons is challenging. Crop rotation and soil enrichment have alleviated some of the challenges growers face, but growers still must determine which cultivar is best for the growing conditions, as well as the cultivar's marketability. The objective of this study was to determine the flavor attributes and consumer preference among three cantaloupe cultivars, 'Athena', 'Sivan', and 'Dulce' and a honeydew cultivar, 'Juane', grown in an organic production system. Among the melons evaluated, 'Sivan' was preferred over other cultivars and consistently had the most positive taste and flavor traits over two years of study and two production locations in Maryland. Consequently, the cultivar, 'Sivan' seems to be well suited for local production and marketing. The scientific information in this study can help the organic melon industry and aid growers in the selection of optimal cultivars.

Technical Abstract: Organic melons are high-value crops for growers. However, production of organic melons is challenging, and not all cultivars are suitable for organic production. This research evaluates the sensory quality and physical-chemical properties of five organically grown melons, including three honeydew cultivars 'Dulce', 'Juane', and 'Sunbeam' (C. melo var. inodorus) and two cantaloupe cultivars 'Athena' (C. melo var. reticulatus) and 'Sivan' (C. melo var. cantalupensis). Melon cultivars were evaluated over a two-year period at three production locations. Trained and a consumer panels evaluated sensory attributes including appearance, texture, flavor, and overall acceptance. Physical-chemical measurements included flesh color, texture, pH, soluble solids content (SSC), and titratable acidity (TA). A strong correlation was observed between overall quality and flavor acceptability sensory scores (R=0.94). 'Sivan' and 'Athena' showed relatively high SSC and pH, and low TA; these melon cultivars were preferred for their texture, flavor and overall eating quality. Conversely, 'Juane' showed low pH and high TA, and was less preferred in terms of texture, flavor, and overall eating quality. Based upon consumer sensory panels, 'Sivan' was the preferred melon cultivar, scoring highest in positive attributes, such as 'sweetness' and 'juiciness'. 'Athena' ranked second overall. 'Dulce' and 'Juane' were the least preferred, scoring the lowest in the positive attributes and highest in negative attributes, such as 'veggie' and 'green' flavors. In contrast with other melon cultivars evaluated, physicochemical and consumer preference data for 'Sivan' showed no statistical difference over the two-year evaluation period across multiple production locations. These results indicate that 'Sivan' is a promising melon for organic production.