Melon business booming in Sanborn County, despite heat - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Melon business booming in Sanborn County, despite heat

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Many parts of South Dakota have unique perks setting them apart. As you may know, one small region just south of Huron near Woonsocket and Forestburg, in Sanborn County, is famous for its melons.

It is a season that only comes around once a year. But, for Charles Larson and his family, once is never enough.

"It's a good income for us, a lot of work. It was easier when my six kids were growing up. They're here on fair week, they take melons to their town and sell them," owner Charles Larson said.

Business at Larson's Melon Market is 6 decades strong. Thanks, in large part, to the 'melon belt' which has become a staple in this part of the state: south of Huron extending about 15 miles.

"It's real sandy soil. That's what brings the sweetness out. You need sandy soil to raise 'em in. That's what we have right through here," Larson said.

Charles Larson and his wife Margie have taken over the business, now with help from their children and grandchildren. 

It's one of three locally-owned roadside markets in the area with a variety of seeded and unseeded watermelons, muskmelons, pumpkins, squash and more. This year, unlike years past, a cooler start to the summer had growers planting a few weeks late.

"We didn't plant a seed in the ground until the 2nd day of June 23. Normally, we start the 10th or 15th of May. This year it was so cold and so wet through that period of time, a lot of people that set plants that were out early had to be planted twice. Little plants cant take the went, long cold spells. I started later and the heat actually done us a favor," Larson said.

Believe it or not, the heat is what's made this year already a success, just four days in.

"We went from maybe not having melons right for fair week to some of the muskmelons going too fast because the 100 degree heat is hard on melons and people, the pickers," Larson laughs.

On a good year, Larson's Melon Market will produce about 1,000 watermelons per acre. With the SD State Fair in full swing, the Larson's will be open after sunset each night and into the fall.

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