Food & Drink

How the hell do they make... seedless watermelons?

Published On 10/23/2013 Published On 10/23/2013

Like squeezing water from a stone, or doing 11th grade math, the concept of seedless watermelon seems impossible. But it IS possible, and we're about to explain how the course of fruit history was changed by some mad melonologists and their hatred of spitting out those black pointy nuisances.


Dropping Science:
The National Watermelon Promotion Board explains it as such: the male watermelon pollen has 22 chromosomes (known as a diploid plant, whose mature form has a striped rind), while the stripeless female watermelon flower is doubly blessed with 44 chromies and referred to as a tetraploid.

When the scientists make with the sex between Diplo and Tetris, the result is a sterile triploid (33 chromes) with still-chewable seeds that can't mature past the small, white stage. These seedcoats are called pips (chew with your mouth closed to avoid pipsqueaks).


The Part About Expensive Seeds And Honeybees:
The fine folks at UFL (Go Gators!) dig deeper, explaining that these special hybrid seeds can cost up to 60 times that of their male/female parents (it's okay -- seeds are cheap!) and take 3-5 weeks to germinate before they can be planted. Once in the soil, each vine needs 25-30sqft, and pollination from some frisky honeybees, in order to spread wing and bear fruit (which is actually 92% water and 8% melon).


Melon Trends; Conclusions!:
Although the hassle-free fruit has been in production for over 50yrs, in the last 10yrs, American taste for the hybrid has changed inversely to its moral standards (significantly less seedy), and grocery stores now stock 84% seedless compared to 57% in 2003. But be warned -- seedless watermelons are allowed by the United States Standards for Grades of Watermelons to contain up to 10 seeds, a technicality that would make most right-minded fruit-lovers spitting mad.



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