THE TRUTH ABOUT SEEDLESS WATERMELON


I’ve noticed some discussion online lately about seedless watermelons and claims that they are “genetically modified,” which somehow makes them a black sheep in the world of produce. I’d like to take this time to set the record straight and restore dignity and honor to the great seedless watermelon by making this declaration:

Seedless watermelons are NOT genetically modified. They are hybrid watermelons that have been grown in the United States for more than 50 years and are safe and delicious in every way!

 

Allow me to explain. Actually, I’ll let the National Watermelon Promotion Board explain, because they do a good job of it on their website. Here’s what they have to say:

“A seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid which is created by crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seed coats inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds. This is similar to the mule, produced by naturally crossing a horse with a donkey. This process does not involve genetic modification.”

So there you have it. Seedless watermelons are just regular watermelons, albeit a relatively younger relative of the traditional seeded watermelon. Despite being the new kid on the block, the seedless watermelon actually outsells its seeded peers by a significant margin. According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, only 16 percent of watermelon sold in grocery stores has seeds. In 2003, that number was 43 percent.

Oh sure, sometimes I miss those little black seeds, but it’s mainly for nostalgic reasons. Sort of the way I miss shopping for new clothes before the start of a new school year. Does it mean I want to spend an entire Saturday in the mall with my mother telling me I’ll “grow into” the five pairs of pants we just spent three hours trying on? Not a chance.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a wedge of watermelon in the fridge with my name on it. Seedless, of course… and my pants fit me just fine.


Comments

  1. StevenCee says:

    I think it humorous that those who prefer the seeded watermelons feel the need to tell others that they’re “wrong” for enjoying seedless ones. Come on people, it’s watermelons! I love them dearly, and have since a kid, when oddly, the custom was to put salt on it when eaten, but no one is “wrong” for liking one kind or the other.

    As a kid, I found picking out all the seeds a chore, and when seedless became available, I thought it a Godsend. Now, I’m a very picky, healthy eater, vegetarian for almost 45 years, but with watermelons, as long as they won’t kill me, I love not having to pick, or crunch on the seeds as I eat, and I’ve found many seedless ones to be quite tasty. I did try a seeded one last week, just to see, since it had been so very long, and it was good, but if there was a difference, it wasn’t enough to switch me over.

    Ultimately, it’s just personal preference… As a musician, I’m quite aware of how we all tend to believe what we like is “the best”, but food, as music, is a very personal, highly subjective experience. So, whether chef or superstar musician, whatever a person likes, is what they like, no matter what you say or feel, period….

  2. Rob says:

    I’m all for watermelon with seeds. They tasted better, were much larger and cheaper with better texture and I like eating the seeds!
    The seedless products we get here in AB are rarely any good and I liken them to sugar-soaked balsa wood. They’re also often coated in something that makes me itchy and have an allergy reaction when I handle them!
    I’ve only ever had ONE seedless melon, an organic grown one that cost a fortune, worth comparing to a seeded variety.
    Seedless is just marketing nonsense.. Please resume greater production of normal seeded melons, i like both the dark green skinned melons with black seeds and the lighter striped ones with brown seeds. And keep the chemicals off them while you’re at it, dear growers.

  3. Rob says:

    Playing with the chromosomes is not GM?

  4. W. Henry-Elwell says:

    I agree with those here who are still seeking the seeds. Even when the seedless babies first started hitting the market regularly, I preferred seeded watermelon. My father and I bought a seedless one and decided we’d never do that again. I stopped buying watermelon because it is all seedless. I don’t trust what the national board of water melon folks say, seedless had better flavor. Even if it was only due to freshness and travel time – the seeded watermelon from my local Hannaford was better than anything seedless today. I’d like some third party, non biased taste testing experiments in the matter. I do a project in it myself – if I could find a watermelon with seeds. If any one with power I this market is reading this, please make seeded watermelons more available in supermarkets again. Who cares why I want them – they are the product I want and will buy. The demand is there. Please provide.

  5. TomL says:

    From “Seedless Watermelon Production” by Jerry Parsons, Larry Stein, Tom Longbrake, Sam Cotner, and Jerral Johnson, published by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service. This article appeared in the May-June 2000 issue of Lawn and Garden Update, edited by Dr. Douglas F. Welsh, and produced by Extension Horticulture, Texas Agricultural Extension Service, The Texas A&M University System, College Station, Texas.

    “Simply stated, the number of chromosomes (the threadlike bodies within cells that contain the inheritance units called genes) in a normal watermelon plant is doubled by the use of the chemical colchicine. Doubling a normal (diploid) watermelon results in a tetraploid plant (one having four sets of chromosomes). When the tetraploid plant is bred back, or pollinated, by a diploid or normal plant, the resulting seed produces a triploid plant that is basically a “mule” of the plant kingdom, and it produces seedless watermelons.”

    Genetically modified? Not in the classic sense since no genetic material from another organism is inserted into the watermelon. Produced as a result of using chemistry to genetically manipulate a parent plant? Absolutely… Is the watermelon board intentionally vague regarding their 44 chromosome female plant? Probably, but that is up to you to decide for yourself.

    I’ll stick with seeded thank you very much… Besides, the seeds can also be roasted and enjoyed as a snack:

    http://www.ehow.com/about_5092722_benefits-watermelon-seeds.html

  6. Calvin parker says:

    I live in rural South Carolina in the summer and live in the city of columbia in winter. I grow watermelons and so do all of my friends in johnsonville South Carolina. However we use fertilizer when we plant but the fertilizer is long gone when the melons come along. They are always tasty, sweet and juicy. I have eaten seeded watermelons all my life and I also eat the seedless ones also. I cannot tell the difference in taste. Eat more watermelon, it is a good source of food. Much love to ya.

  7. Prince says:

    Even by your explanation they are being genetically modified.

  8. Mehr says:

    Seeded watermelon test much better and donot have bad after test like seedless melon
    It is all about making money and keep longer to sell.
    $$$$$$
    Every other fruits also changed the normal taste.
    I Guess they can do what ever they want to do to all kind of
    Produce. To make more money and keep it longer

  9. Marilyn says:

    I’ve been wondering for years now why watermelons don’t taste the way they used to. Now I know! I also wonder if it’s difficult finding melons WITH seeds.
    Very interesting site. I appreciate it!

  10. Christina says:

    Can’t really say seedless outsells seeded melons when convenient places like the supermarket only carries seedless melons.

  11. Pat says:

    Watermelons of all stripes (literally), are tasteless and have a weird texture when they’re ripened off the vine, due to them being shipped to strange and exotic places where watermelons don’t grow easily. Grocery store watermelon is picked green and unripe, and shipped, because if it’s ripe, you’d have to freeze it in order to transport it to all the places it’s exported to (and imported from, all of your winter watermelons are from out of the USA, starting in October, and running through April).

    No matter what sort of watermelon it is (seedless, seeded, pink, red, orange, or yellow), a watermelon, like most produce, tastes best vine picked. It’ll be sweet, a little crunchy (depending on if it’s day one, or day 3 since picking), and quite satisfying.

    Side note: If you want a really sweet watermelon, go for orange or yellow, they are sweeter, and the flavor is slightly different. They are typically a small, seeded variety of watermelon, and round in shape. They do NOT get to the gigantic proportions that supermarket watermelons do, and sometimes are listed as ‘fancy’.

  12. jeremy says:

    Basically the genes ARE modified to be sterile, allowung the board to control the supply of watermelon. They just have NOT been modified to produce the patented pesticide called Roundup.

  13. Jennifer says:

    It took me 5 years to figure out that I could not digest seedless watermelon. I LOVE, LOVE watermelon. When I began to have trouble, I didn’t know why or what caused it. Thru elimination process, I discovered that I could not digest seedless watermelon. I don’t know why.

  14. Maggy says:

    Just bought a seedless watermelon at a fruit stand in Dunedin, FL tonight. Really had a hankering for watermelon. Sliced it open, tasted it, and it doesn’t even taste like a watermelon. It is certainly not sweet. My husband tasted it, and said it was as if the cultivators knew what a watermelon looked like, but they just didn’t know what it tasted like. I really love the fruit stand owners, and hate to take it back. So shall I donate it to the dumpster, or ask for a refund? My great watermelon dilemma.

  15. Laticia Kirkaldy says:

    Sure, seedless out sells seeded, because is place like New York city we have NO choice. You cannot find any seller of seeded watermelon. So it really means nothing that the seedless version sells more.
    And the way that these seedless watermelons are created is NOT naturally occurring as each melon is sterile.
    Why can’t we have the choice of getting what we want instead of being influenced to get the other…I am for seeded watermelon, the way it was intended period

  16. Adam says:

    Some of you crack me up with your terms negatively describing seedless watermelons. I like both equally, so its irrelevant to me which I get. There are PLENTY of delicious seedless watermelons out there, you just have to know how to find them. Heck, most places I go, the vast majority of seedless are good. Maybe where I live just have good watermelons, but I don’t find it difficult at all. I just find all the hostility towards seedless to be funny.

  17. Karen says:

    I was so excited to buy a seeded watermelon, only to cut it open and find seedless. We took it back and they opened 3 more to find seedless. Oh the disappointment! I was raised on good ole seeded and Im only 36. Now i cant even find seeded anywhere. I havent had it in so long. I miss eating watermelon.

  18. Mel Driller says:

    I remember watermelon’s ALWAYS being sweet and delicious. Now, with the seedless ones, I rarely get a really good one. They used to ALL be really good. Each time I buy one, I’m taking a chance. The worst is buying a large piece of watermelon and not really enjoying it. Color means nothing now. Used to be if a watermelon was red, it was delicious. Now it just means it had red parents.

  19. Fred Lang says:

    I do not know what your definition of genetically modified is however in the procedure to produce a seedless watermelon a chemical colchicine is used to double the amount of chromosomes. When it is pollinated by a normal watermelon the seedless watermelon is the result (also not having the correct pairing and number of chromosomes. In my book this has been genetically modified.

  20. Jake says:

    Here’s an article that seems to be much better researched and thought out. Hybrid fruits are not gmos. They’ve been around a lot longer. http://www.incrediblesmoothies.com/green-smoothies/faq-green-smoothies/are-hybrid-and-seedless-fruits-gmo/

  21. Joanna says:

    I just want to put in my 2 cents. I could not find a seeded watermelon in the stores this summer. So much for preferring the seedless. I wonder what would happen if the stores had a sign up sheet for those who wanted seeded watermelon. I can’t remember what country it was but I read last spring about watermelons exploding in the field due to altering them. As far as seeds being unsafe for kids? Please. Kids spit them out and have fun doing it. The sodium in kids snacks are enough to give an elephant hypertension. You can’t say that about watermelon seeds. God put seeds in there for a reason. Interesting how someone spends so much time trying to make it “better”. 😀

  22. Tom Weaks says:

    The primary reason that watermelons purchased from a grocery store have a poor taste is that it takes too long to transport them from the farm to the grocery store and they have sat around in the grocery store a long time waiting for a buyer. The key to finding a fresh one is to examine the cut stem on the melon. It should be green. If it has dried up, it has been picked too long and the melon will not have a good taste. In addition, examine the underside of the melon. That side has rested on the ground while growing and should be cream in color and never white.

    One question for you to ponder over. Why would a farmer grow seeded watermelons that weigh 30 pounds and sell to the food broker for $5 each when he can grow seedless melons that weigh 10 pounds each and sell for the same price? And the same question can be asked the food broker and the grocery store.

  23. MrMelon says:

    The taste of watermelon has nothing to do with the presence of seeds – it has to do with the genetic background of the material used to make the triploids! If the parents don’t have good taste, the hybrid won’t have good taste. Seeded or seedless.

    And if you’re against seedless watermelon because it’s triploid, then you shouldn’t eat bananas either! Try a seeded banana and let me know how that goes! Did I just blow up your world??

  24. Reese says:

    Personally, I’m uber tired of my food being tainted. Watermelon use to be my favorite fruit. On the way hm from FL I saw a farmer transporting seeded watermelons and I hunted him down. Needless to say, he made lots of money off of me and my 3 car caravan. That was 4 years ago and the last time I ate watermelon. Without REAL watermelon summers just aren’t the same anymore.

  25. Peter says:

    I stopped buying watermelon years ago. Anything imported to southern Ontario does not taste like watermelon seedless or not.

  26. Trinity says:

    I love this website.

  27. Rukigo says:

    I’m in LA and my local supermarkets sell both seeded and seedless. I don’t notice the difference (the only weird tasting watermelons are the ones you can buy from a street vendor). I buy seedless because I make smoothies and slushies with them and I don’t want seeds in my smoothies.

  28. Todd says:

    It seems you left out of your explanation the “other way” they make seedless watermelons… which is much more common and dangerous. Using a chemical drug called colchicine. This splits the chromosomes from two into four producing a seedless sterile watermelon as well. Its cheap, fast, and extremely dangerous.

    Do your research

  29. The Watermelon Guy says:

    That’s great to hear, Rukigo! We would love to see some of the smoothies you make, so feel free to pass along some photos and maybe even a recipe, or two!

  30. Jen says:

    I don’t trust these watermelons at all! I ate 400g of watermelon end of this summer season and immediately my stomach blew up. It was so bad I had to lie down. The following morning the 2nd watermelon had burst open in my garage. I have never in my 54 years ever had this happen with watermelon. What poisons are in these watermelons ? I am left to believe, bodies never lie only people do driven by greed and profits!

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