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Aug 18, 2012 3:07 PM by Matt Stafford

Melon growers rebounding after outbreak

ROCKY FORD, Colo. (AP) - Nearly a year after tainted cantaloupes from southeast Colorado sickened hundreds and caused a nationwide melon scare, farmers in Rocky Ford say they're having a strong season.

This year's crop is smaller, with less than half the acreage in cantaloupes compared to last year. But the farmers who banded together to brand the Rocky Ford cantaloupes have spent nearly $1 million in safety upgrades say their efforts have paid off and they can't keep melons on shelves. Growers say melon prices are up significantly, likely due to the smaller crop.

Rocky Ford is celebrating this year's crop at the Arkansas Valley Fair. Politicians competed in a cantaloupe-eating contest, and Otero County residents lined up for annual watermelon giveaway and seed-spitting contest.

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