Watermelon price rises sharply in 2008

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - If you think the price of watermelons has gone up in Oklahoma, you're right.

Growers blame rising costs for fuel, fertilizer and other issues for an increase in the price of Oklahoma watermelons of up to 50 percent.

That was never more evident than at the 64th Rush Springs Watermelon Festival over the weekend. Festival official Dan Williams says most melons were selling for between $6 and $7, about $2 higher than the previous year.

Williams doubted the increase had anything to do with a report by scientific researchers that a compound in watermelons causes an effect similar to Viagra, the drug used to alleviate sexual dysfunction in men.

Researchers at Texas A&M say the ingredient citrulline, found in the flesh and rind of the watermelon, relaxes blood vessels, producing an effect similar to the popular drug.

Rush Springs state Representative Joe Dorman says another factor is melon farmers in the area have dwindled as field workers have become harder to find.

Dorman says the passage of anti-illegal immigration legislation has made it harder for farmers to find laborers.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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