A common practice for the irrigation management of muskmelon (Cucumis melo L. reticulatus group) is to restrict water supply to the plants from late fruit development and through the harvest period. However, this late fruit development period is critical for sugar accumulation and water stress at this stage is likely to limit the final fruit soluble solids concentration (SSC). Two field irrigation experiments were conducted to test the idea that maintaining muskmelon plants free of water stress through to the end of harvest will maximise sugar accumulation in the fruit. In both trials, water stress before or during harvest detrimentally affected fruit SSC and fresh weight (e.g., no stress fruit 11.2% SSC, weight 1180 g; stress fruit 8.8% SSC, weight 990 g). Maintaining plants free of water stress from flowering through to the end of harvest is recommended to maximise yield and fruit quality.
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