The 2011 Taiwan Watermelon Festival kicked off on May 14 at the Yunlin County Stadium in Douliou City. Leading up to the main contest was a smaller contest for high-quality watermelons held on May 12 . With much less rain this year, watermelons are tasting sweeter. The sweetness of the watermelons sampled during the contest had an average sweetness slightly over 13 degrees Brix — a standard measurement of sugar content.
The month of May marks the beginning of the watermelon season. The strange weather at the beginning of the year with cold and hot temperatures fluctuating abnormally has caused the growth of watermelons to be unstable. The harvest had to be delayed by two weeks, therefore there were fewer participants in the contest this year. The organi-zers canceled the “watermelon king” category because there were not enough participants. However, other categories such as “large-sized watermelons,” “medium-sized watermelons,” “seedless mini-watermelons” and “unique watermelons” were still included. In total, more than 1,500 watermelons were entered into the contest.
The jury makes selections according to specific criteria for weight, appearance, shape, sweetness, as well as the quality and color of the fleshy center. The watermelon’s appearance must appeal to the eye and be flawless, without any scars left by insects. The shape must be normal. The fleshy center must be crispy, delightful, smooth and juicy. The sweetness should measure at least 10 degrees Brix, and the sweeter the watermelon, the higher the score. Organizers sampled the watermelons last week and measured an average sweetness of slightly more than 13 degrees Brix.
One jury member said that unstable weather this year has caused the watermelons to look worse than last year, but since it has rained much less the watermelons are tasting much sweeter. When consumers are selecting watermelons to purchase at the market this year, they will undoubtedly find a tasty one.
(LIBERTY TIMES, TRANSLATED BY TAIJING WU)