It’s only when something a bit weird happens that your attention is drawn to what actually goes on in the food chain prior to stuff finding its way to your dinner table.
It has been reported over the last couple of weeks that Eastern Chinese watermelon fields are strewn with exploded fruit.
The farmers concerned had been using the growth promoting chemical ‘Forchlorfenuron’, which is a ‘plant growth regulator’.
This substance is registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency and is used on grapes, kiwi fruit and raisins. It should be applied to the fruit flowers or early post bloom fruit.
The farmers were using it to gain the advantage of claims that the chemical would boost fruit size by 20% and bring the harvest forward by two weeks.
But according to MSNBC these Chinese farmers applied Forchlorfenuron late in the season and in wet conditions causing melons to explode by the acre. There are accounts of shattered shells and flying pips.
But experts also say that, although there is no health risk associated with the use of this growth substance, watermelons are sensitive and can end up misshapen and hard to store as well as being less tasty so difficult if not impossible to sell.