Yubari Melroad!

by Kazu

Speaking of Yubari City, what comes to the mind of Japanese people is, primary Yubari Melon, secondary bankruptcy of the municipality and  tertiary coalmine, I think.
But the citizens are struggling to get out of the debt and the interest their predecessors left and to hit the balance in their financial report.    
 During the long holidays from April 28(Sat.) to May 6(Sun.), at the road station in southern part of Yubari City, lots of vendors and stands opened to welcome the tourists and the citizens.
After the expressway that connects Sapporo City and the eastern part of Hokkaido including Obihiro City got available, most of the passengers tend to pass by the roadstation in Yubari City and adjacent municipalities.
Under the control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and communications, the expenditures of the municipality have been minimized based on the recovery plan endorsed by the ministry. If any changes on the financial plan and the budget, the municipality should lodge its claim and get the agreement. 
 In such a case, naturally the citizens and the entities in Yubari City seek for the way to be championed by the central government of Japan, prefectural government and other municipalities. But they have to stand on their own in  not-too-distanced future.
The weakened chambers and commerce in Yubari City and the citizens are trying to raise money   
to make the city full of cherry trees and blossoms in spring. After the nosedive of the coalmine industry, the municipality exerted the effort to invite tourists, gettng grants and subsidies from the central government under the leadership of Mayor Tetsuji Nakata. As a result, that leads to a tremendous amount of debt and bankruptcy.  in retrospect, he was a gambler.
 Even in the small events held in the roadstation in yubari, making a donation for planting cherry trees is recommended.
Again, the municipality is suffered the heavy debt and the interest and can not spend the budget to tourism any more.
On the other hand, Yubari Melon is one of the most stable and trusted brand with high premium in Japan.
The cultivation of Yubari melon has already begun.

 The photo on the right is the bud of Yubari melon about 30 days after its sprouting. The grafting border can not be seen on this stage. As the most appropriate temperature to raise Yubati melon differs in each phase, the plants should be moved from one greenhouse to another according to the growing phase.
The soil in the greenhouse should be kept at 18 degree in Celcius to produce the promised grade of Yubari melon. Even in the greenhouse, the planting space should be covered with the plastic sheets derived from the recycled coversheets of the greenhouse.   
 As pouring water just after the planting cools down the ground in the greenhouse, a plenty of water should be given to the soil before planting the seedling.
Two days after planting of seedlings, as each seedling begins to extend the root outside the pot, a little bit of water in a small cup should be given to the soil around the pot to enhance taking root. 
Two weeks after palanting, each seedling begins to extend the vines with the cirrus and tendril. The farmers should lead the vines to an appropriate directions with white wires in order to supply the same amount of sunshine and water and equal condition to each seedling. 
 Honeybees are the must for producing Yubari melon.
One beehive of honey bees should be set in each greenhouse.
Only japanese honeybees know the way to fight against the hornets that attack the beehive of honeybees. They swamp to the hornets and warm up the body of their own  by trembling their body and kill the hornets at the cost of their lives.
 The pollination rate of honeybees is 95% to 100%. Once the plant begins to bear fruit, the flower starts to close.

Lefthand side is the photo of the plant four or five days after bearing fruit.
So-called  infanticide should be done by cutting extra vines and picking up the some of the baby melons in this phase.
Enough wind is required to raise the best grade Yubari melon.
Each vine can bear 4 to 5 melons but at the end of the day, just two melons should be left in each vines.
In the photo of righthand side, the front fruit should be picked up before ripening.  
Sixteen to seventeen days after bearing melon, the color turns from dark green to gray-green and the fruit begins to form the net on the surface from the lower side.

Twenty to twenty one days after bearing fruit, a vague pattern of net can be seen on the surface. 
Twenty nine to thirty days after bearing fruit, the pattern of net on the surface can be seen clearly. The pattern of net is created by the unbalance of the speed of growth between inside the fruit and the surface.
Thirty four to thirty five days after bearing fruit, the shape is getting to sphere and ten more days are necessary to be picke up.
Five days before the harvest, the pattern of net has already created completely. A a result, compiled dayly temperature is approximately 900 degrees in Celcius at the point of harvest. 
All the melons harvested in Yubari City are carried to the categorizing area to be checke up the quality.

The growers of melon checked up all the melons including the ones raised up by other growers.
In order to keep the quality of Yubari melons and the trust to the brandname, each inspector should do their best and cull the melons that can not reach the promised grade. 
 All the melons are categorized to four degrees, Supreme, superb, excellent and fine based on the strict standard set for the shape, colour and the pattern of the net on the surface.
The first couple of Yubari melon of supreme grade may be put on the price of 300,000 Japanese yen in the first bidding in the market of each year including the premium as a gift praying for the huge consumption of the melons. 

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