Why do some of the melons I grew have a bitter taste?


I have had a bumper crop of sweet and delicious muskmelons and charantais melons this summer, but I am noticing that some of the later ripening melons have some parts of the flesh that have a bitter taste. This is the first year I have encountered this. There isn’t anything in the look of the flesh to indicate a problem. What could be causing this?


Jonathan Foster, Special Projects Assistant

There are several factors that can contribute to an off or bitter taste in cantaloupes, but the end results is the same–the fruit did not produce the desired ratio of sugar to other chemical compounds like cucurbatacins, bitter-tasting substances that melons and squashes produce to deter predation from animals. As you can read in this handy Texas A&M Extension Q&A on cantaloupes, excessive watering can negatively impact the flavor of the fruit, and given our very rainy season this year I’m inclined to think that may be the culprit. You indicate it was a bumper crop and the fruits are fine in appearance, which further suggest that this is most likely an environmental issue and not a pest or pathogen. Make sure next season’s plants are put into well-draining soil and hope for more seasonally appropriate rainfall!