‘Dude’ Corriher knows secret of tasty melons
By Jessie Burchette
B.W. “Dude” Corriher isn’t bashful about the quality of his cantaloupes.
“I believe I’ve got the best cantaloupes in the county,” the 86-year-old Corriher said recently while showing off his acre field of cantaloupes and watermelons.
Corriher relies on the old Dizzy Dean adage, it ain’t bragging if it’s fact.
And in this case, the proof is in the taste of his Burpee and Aphrodite melons.
A lifelong farmer, Corriher operated a cotton gin in West Rowan for decades, closing it down in the 1970s.
In his “retirement” years he’s ventured into growing melons, with mixed success.
Wright took a hiatus for a few years when prices fell with a glut of melons.
After a while he consulted with Frank Wright, the guru of Enochville cantaloupes.
For years Wright sold cantaloupes under the shade of huge oak trees across from Enochville Elementary School. Wright died several years ago.
Wright’s cantaloupes were widely renowned for quality and taste.
“I wanted to do it right,” Corriher said. “And Frank Wright did it right.”
Wright shared his secret with Corriher, who’s staying mum.
Part of the secret involves cottonseed meal, but Wright isn’t going further.
In addition to Burpee, the standard for cantaloupes, he bought Aphrodite seed ó an improved Athena variety.
Along with the secret recipe, Corriher has a drip irrigation system.
He’s added a scarecrow and short sections of snake-like black plastic hose to scare away crows.
With the help of his son, Tom, and grandchildren, he started picking melons last week.
His wife, Helen, helped out early on, chopping out weeds. Now that the garden is in, she’s busy freezing and canning.
Now it’s about finding buyers. He’s hauled some to near Shelby, selling others at local markets including the Rowan Regional Hospital Farmers Market on Thursday evenings.
And Corriher sells melons at his home at the corner of Old Ginn Road and N.C. 150 ó 13011 Mooresville Road ó a short distance west of Corriher Grange Road.
He’s taken an extra step this year to keep the Burpee melons at peak taste. He took a small shed, insulated it and added an air conditioner.
While he’s picking and selling cantaloupes, his watermelons are growing. The patch includes Charleston Grey, Crimson Sweet and Jamboree.
He expects to have watermelons to October.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.