Predicting Yield and Time to Maturity of Muskmelons from Weather and Crop Observations

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Plant Science Department, Macdonald Campus of McGill University, 21111 Lakeshore road, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec H9X 3V9, Canada
  • 2 Centre for Research and Development in Horticulture, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 430 Boulevard Gouin, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec J3B 3E6, Canada

A simple method to predict time from anthesis of perfect flowers to fruit maturity (full slip) and yield is presented here for muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.) grown in a northern climate. Developmental time for individual muskmelons from anthesis to full slip could be predicted from several heat unit formulas, depending on the temperature data set used. When temperature at 7.5 cm above soil level was used, the heat unit formula resulting in the lowest coefficient of variation (cv=6.9%) accumulated daily average temperatures with a base temperature of 11 °C and an upper threshold of 25 °C. With temperatures recorded at a meteorological station located 2 km from the experimental field, the method showing the lowest cv (8.9%) accumulated daily maximum temperatures with a base temperature of 15 °C. This latter method was improved by including a 60-degree-day lag for second cycle fruit. The proportion of fruit volume at full slip of 22 fruit from the first cycle could be described by a common Richards function (R2=0.99). Although 65% of the plants produced two fruit cycles, fruit from the first cycle represented 72% of total yield in terms of number and mass. The blooming period of productive flowers lasted 34 days, each cycle overlapping and covering an equal period of 19 days. Counting the number of developing fruit >4 cm after 225 degree days from the start of anthesis (when 90% of the plants have at least one blooming perfect flower) could rapidly estimate the number of fruit that will reach maturity.

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