The farmers used the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron. Even the melons that survived tended to have fibrous, misshapen fruit with mostly white instead of black seeds.
“Chinese regulations don't forbid use of the substance. It is also allowed in the United States for use on kiwi fruit and grapes ... About 20 farmers and 115 acres of watermelon around Danyang were affected ... Farmers resorted to chopping up the fruit and feeding it to fish and pigs”.