They have names like Baby Doll, Belle, Jubilee, Tiger Baby and Melitopolski.  Their fruit may be the traditional red, or they may be pink, yellow or orange.  They are varieties of icebox watermelon that are being field tested at Washington State University’s Vancouver Research and Extension Unit as a potential crop for Western Washington farmers.

Next Wednesday the WSU Vancouver REU will offer not only the results of its latest field trials on more than 100 varieties of icebox watermelon but also the opportunity to taste some of them.

The annual icebox watermelon field day will be held from 2 – 4 pm, Wednesday Aug. 31, at the WSU Vancouver REU, 1919 N.E. 78th Street in Vancouver.

Icebox watermelons are smaller than the traditional picnic watermelon, weighing in at between 6 and 15 pounds.  They are gaining in popularity because the smaller size makes them easier to store in the refrigerator.

Some varieties reach maturity in as little as 78 days, meaning they can be grown during the short Northwest growing season.

The WSU Vancouver REU presented its first research report on icebox watermelon in 2003 based on field trials of nine varieties.  The watermelons are grown in a certified organic field using organic growing techniques.

Researchers will be on hand to discuss new varieties, growing techniques and field trial results, and to offer samples.

For more information on WSU’s icebox watermelon research visit http://agsyst.wsu.edu/Watermelon.htm .