TAWARAMOTO, Nara -- Two decades of research by a seed company in this western Japan city has produced a large watermelon variety with seeds so tiny that people can eat them without a second thought.
Hagihara Farm Co., which specializes in watermelon and melon seeds and seedlings, developed the variety with seeds about one-eighth the size of those in ordinary watermelons. The variety has been named "Puchitto" -- a Japanese onomatopoeia for the sensation of something popping -- as that's how it feels to bite on the seeds.
Though there have been seedless watermelons on the market before, and their quality has improved in recent years, growing them reportedly costs a lot and requires great care.
In response to the issue, Hagihara Farm repeatedly crossed small watermelon types with ultra-small seeds introduced from overseas and the company's high-quality varieties. The firm says that it usually takes 10 years to develop a tasty watermelon variety, but that it took twice the normal time and effort to reach the desired crisp texture and high sugar content.
"This is a gem, the crystallization of all the hard work I've inherited from my senior colleagues," said Toshikazu Oiwa, 33, who oversaw the development of Puchitto. "I want people to take a big bite without caring about seeds."
Some Puchitto watermelons have already been sold on a trial basis. The company intends to check growth results in various locations, consumer reaction and other data, and expects to start full-scale distribution of the seeds to producers as early as next year.
(Japanese original by Takemori Horikawa, Nara Bureau)