Hot Swedish summers allow outdoor cultivation of melons

Sweden is a cold, dark place just below the North Pole, with nine months of harsh winters and three months of slightly poor skiing conditions.

Ingmar Nilsson, a second-generation melon producer in Frirestad, a suburb of Helsingborg in Skane, Sweden, explains what his reality is and how he uses the warm climate to grow sweet-tasting melons and watermelons. It will tell you how you are cultivating.

Ingmar Nilsson delivering melons from Sweden

“It’s dark in Sweden… From mid-October to mid-March the length of the days increases rapidly, and in midsummer the days get shorter again. For comparison, on June 21st the daylight hours in southern Sweden is 17:00. 35 minutes, 24 hours in the north, and 14:48 in Alicante, Spain on the same day, which is early May, or mid-August. The fact that it’s 30 degrees Celsius and nighttime temperatures between 12 and 20 degrees Celsius gives the melons the right temperature to grow, and plenty of light for rapid growth,” Nilsson explains.

The weather isn’t the most reliable, but it can change from rain at 15 degrees to sun at 30 degrees and back within a week. It can also maintain 15-18 degrees all summer, while the next summer he will have constant sun at 25-30 degrees.

But in a country with such uncertain growing conditions, how do you come up with the idea of ​​growing something as heat- and sun-loving as a melon?

“Well… let me start by saying that melon cultivation has a long history in southern Sweden. Commercial cultivation began shortly after the end of World War II in the late 1940s. The cultivation system was very labor intensive, but the yield was high, and a reasonable yield was secured every year.For comparison, from 1947 to 2002 My father, who grew melons in hotbeds, had an average yield of 4 tons per year from 2,500 m2,” Nilsson recalls fondly.

According to him, Swedish melons have always been the Italian type with nets, but they are often much larger. From the beginning he was an open-pollinated variety only until the mid-1970s, then became a local variety as growers produced their own seeds. New and smaller varieties were introduced from seed companies such as ‘Helma’ and ‘West’, but over the years these have been replaced by local varieties.

The first hybrid ‘Aroma’ was introduced in the mid-1970s and soon became the Swedish melon, disappearing from the market until 2015 due to poor parent material. It has become. Since the 1960s, greenhouse cultivation has been practiced everywhere, but melons were not inferior to cucumbers, which were easy to grow under the same conditions. Large-scale outdoor melons were attempted in his mid-1990s on no more than 6 hectares, but being an ‘aromatic’ variety, were terminated after a few years due to quality and yield issues. Unfortunately, this experiment led to an overall decline in price levels, from 10 kg he to 2.5 kg in two years. Until then, Swedish melons were considered gourmet melons, so they were priced much higher than imported melons,” he says.

‘Aroma’ has since disappeared while seed companies and growers have tried to find replacements, but nothing has come close to ‘Aroma”s distinct taste and thick slices. price levels are starting to recover, but customers no longer remember the ‘fragrance’ but are accustomed to all kinds of melons around the world. According to Nilsson, many Swedish customers are very environmentally conscious and prefer locally grown and sustainably grown food when possible.

“Because it’s a bloody melon, it was natural for me to try to grow all the melons that our customers know about. That’s why I grow yellow canary, piel de sapo, cantaloupe, gallia, and sandias (red).” I grow charante and almost all yellow nets.My farm, named Pukemossens gaard of 25 hectares, is one of the smallest in the area and chooses not to have an employee. So we have to continue growing melons on the same smaller scale,” says Nilsson.

“Melons are weakly resistant to weeds and I am an ecogrower, so there are only two ways to solve this problem. Removing weeds mechanically is almost impossible. I use the ‘Mypex’ cover. Melons are attacked by the same pests as cucumbers, but insects are no problem for me, but prefer to stay inside the greenhouse. can be quite a problem, especially the slugs in the Spanish forest…thanks a lot…”

“Planting starts in mid-May and ends in mid-June. I grow my own plants in an 18m2 greenhouse, where I can grow 3000 plants at a time. Harvest is usually in August. It begins in late September and ends in late September to early October.The variety I choose must be adapted to the northern climate and weigh no more than 1.5 kg when ripe. By the way, I can’t say I’ve gotten rich from growing melons outdoors, but I’m getting richer from learning something new every year in a culture I thought I knew. Cultivation is more of a gamble than growing in hotbeds or greenhouses, but it also requires a lot less work.”

“This has been a pretty dry year and we haven’t even watered it once! It’s still an experimental system so I can’t give you a level of yield. Variation is really on my side, at least on this subject: melons can and should be grown in Sweden on a much larger scale than they are now. New year’s watermelons taste at least as sweet as Spanish or Italian melons, and they’re pest-free, so eco-growing isn’t as risky as it used to be. I can only point out that it helps grow melons,” concludes Nilsson.

For more information:
Ingmar Nilsson
pukemossen guard
Phone: +46 70 234 05 19
Email: Hot Swedish summers allow outdoor cultivation of melons

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