Enhancing Ripening Characteristics of “Netted” and `Honeydew”-type Melons

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  • 1 1USDA/ARS, 2301 S. International Blvd., Weslaco, TX 78596
  • 2 2Texas A&M Research and Extension Center, Weslaco, TX 78596.

“Netted” (Cucumis melo var. reticulatus Naud.) cantaloupes typically abscise when mature, and have a shorter postharvest life than “Honeydew” (Cucumis melo var. inodoris Naud.) -type melons. The amount of ethylene and carbon dioxide produced by two cantaloupe genotypes (slipping), one Honeydew genotype (non-slipping), and the F1 hybrids derived from the slipping x non-slipping genotypes were measured during ripening to understand the genetic control of ethylene and fruit abscission. Sterile, nondestructive gas sampling ports inserted into 20-day-old fruit were used to extract samples from the central cavity of the melons and monitor ethylene and carbon dioxide from day 30 until the fruit was horticulturally mature. Honeydew melons had a lower rate of respiration during maturation and ripening than Netted melons, and Netted melons produced 10-fold more ethylene during ripening than Honeydew types. F1 fruit produced ethylene at levels similar to the Netted parent, abscissed 2 to 4 days later than the Netted parent, yet respired during maturation and ripening like the Honeydew-type parent. Ethylene production, respiration, and abscission appear to be controlled by dominant gene action.

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