Harvesting begins for hydroponically grown ‘flying in the sky’ melons in Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A worker harvests melons grown hydroponically in Nasushiobara, Tochigi Prefecture, on Saturday.

NASU-SHIOBARA, Tochigi — The harvesting of melons grown hanging from a greenhouse ceiling began Saturday at the Yunoka Shiobara roadside rest area in Nasu-Shiobara, Tochigi Prefecture.

The melons have been grown hydroponically using special equipment since 2018 and are dubbed “flying in the sky” melons.

A single plant can bear only about two or three melons via soil cultivation. However, the plants’ roots absorb nutrients more effectively using the hydroponic system. About 30 melons per plant can be harvested via this method, and the sugar content remains the same.

The farm increased staff for pollination work this year and expects to harvest about 200 melons, around 50 more than usual.

The fruit is sold directly to customers or processed into sweets for sale.

“Even though I’m inexperienced in farming, I’m able to get a stable harvest each year,” said the 39-year-old man in charge of cultivation. “I’d like for people to come here and see this cultivation method and hope it spreads.”

Harvesting is expected to continue through this month.