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New Israeli Technique to Make Melons Ripe for Winter Export

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Agricultural scientists at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev are introducing a new technique that will enable melons to be grown in winter for export.

The new system is based on the theory that what is good for humans should help the growth of the fruit and thereby bring in high prices in Europe.

Israeli cantaloupe and honeydew melons sell for premium out-of-season prices at the best hotels and gourmet restaurants in Europe.

Professor Dov Pasternak of Ben-Gurion’s Institute for Agriculture and Applied Biology said at a news conference Sunday that the technique uses “passive solar energy” and “solar blankets.”

Solar energy would reduce the cost of heating, thereby bringing down the price of the melons.

The method of “solar blankets” uses plastic pipes full of water heated by solar energy by day.

At night, a “thermal blanket” of plastic sheeting is placed over the crop, preventing the heat from dissipating, and keeping the inside temperature about 13 degrees Fahrenheit above the outside temperature.

Pasternak called the idea “simple. People wrap themselves in blankets during the winter to preserve their body heat. We use a thermal blanket to warm up the plants.

“We have joined the principles of passive solar energy and hothouse faming,” he said.

The JTA Daily News Bulletin will not be published Monday, Jan. 18, in observance of the Martin Luther King Day national holiday.

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