Tue, Jun 11, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Tainan honors Hsu Feng-kao, a cantaloupe expert

By Wang Chun-chung, Liu Wan-chun and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Hsu Feng-kao (許凰誥), a cantaloupe expert renowned for his high-value produce and being the go-to man for commercial experiments with new melon cultivars, was honored by the Tainan City Government last week.

Tainan Agriculture Bureau Director Lee Chao-tang (李朝塘) visited Hsu’s Annan District (安南) orchard on Monday last week to convey Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che’s (黃偉哲) praise for Hsu’s work.

Tainan is known as the birthplace of Taiwan’s cantaloupe industry, annually producing 20,000 tonnes and earning NT$6.4 billion (US$204 million), making cantaloupes one of the region’s most valuable agricultural products, Lee said.

Hsu grows cantaloupes in greenhouses instead of under plastic tunnels as many farmers do and prunes the plants to produce a single melon, resulting in a superior grade, chemical residue-free product that is a match for the best Japanese melons, he said.

A farmer since he was 28, Hsu learned how to grow cantaloupes in greenhouses in Japan after being one of two farmers selected by the Council of Agriculture for an exchange program in 1993, Lee said.

However, given the low demand initially for high-value fruits, Hsu’s trailblazing greenhouse orchard took more than two decades before it started turning a profit in 2015, he said.

“Hsu’s level of cantaloupe expertise far exceeds the majority of degree-holding agricultural scientists,” Lee said.

“He is a Tainan treasure,” Lee added.

Hsu said that perfecting cantaloupe growing had been the work of a lifetime and he has been pleased by the increased interest in premium cultivars in recent years.

Over the years, he has worked on more than 100 cantaloupe cultivars with the council’s district research station and private seed companies that send him samples every year, he said.

In the past decade, the research station has created the Tainan 11, 12 and 13 from his cultivars, while the Tainan 14 — whose development is nearing completion — would surpass Japanese melons in flavor, he said.

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