Watermelon man Mickey Murphy visits Rotary

Published 11:54 pm Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mickey Murphy brought his melons to the Rotary Club recently and gave an interesting talk about watermelons, and also provided the members with samples of several varieties for dessert.

John Gallaspy first started this program in 1969, Murphy said, but Gallaspy was unable to attend, leaving the program in his friend and fellow melon grower’s hands.

Murphy, who said he’s been growing melons alongside Gallaspy for 26 years, noted that Gallaspy has been at it for 70 years.

“He has more research than LSU does,” he said.

“I’m in the field with him, and we help each other out. But John has a little separate part of the field,” Murphy said, “and even being in the field with him I’ve never been able to catch on to some of his tricks of the trade.”

He continued talking about how he began growing melons in 1987, “and it grew on me because of the all the good people I meet.

“Most folks, especially the folks my age, have a watermelon story to tell you. There’s not a lot of money in it (growing melons), but there are very numerous rewards as far as the people that you meet and the network you establish,” he said.

Murphy shared some ideas on how to tell when you’ve got a good melon.

“For many years, John would tell you to bring a coyote with you because they know how to pick out the best melons, and I can tell you there’s a lot of truth in that. But everybody has a different method.”

Many people thump ‘em or slap ‘em, he said.

“That’s probably the most common practice you’ll see in the area we live in.”

Other methods involved the tentacle (a method which seemed more like an old-time way of picking) and the curl on the melon.

“Most of the time when you go to a major grocery chain you won’t find a curl on a melon. They are pulled green and they’ll stay green, because unlike cantaloupes, melons do not continue to ripen after they are harvested. But when you see one with a stem it’s probably grown locally.”

Some favorite varieties grown by Gallaspy and Murphy, and shared with his listeners include Jubilee 2, Crimson Sweet, Desert Storm, Gold Stripe and Summer Flavor 17.

But really, most melons grown in Washington Parish will be firm and juicy and sweet, but especially if it’s a Gallaspy or a Murphy melon.