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Laurie Hodges, Entin Daningsih, and James R. Brandle

Field experiments were conducted over 4 years to evaluate the effects of antitranspirant (Folicote, Aquatrol Inc., Paulsboro, N.J.) and polyacrylamide gel (SuperSorb, Aquatrol Inc., Paulsboro, N.J.) on early growth of transplanted muskmelon grown either protected by tree windbreaks or exposed to seasonal winds. A randomized complete block design (RCBD) with split plot arrangement was used with wind protection (sheltered and exposed) areas as the main treatment and use of an antitranspirant spray or gel dip as subtreatments. Based on destructive harvests in the field, treatments and subtreatments did not affect dry weight or leaf area index in the first 2 years. Specific contrasts, however, showed that gel application significantly increased fresh weight, dry weight, and leaf area index over that of the untreated transplants whereas the spray application tended to reduce these factors during the first 3 weeks after transplanting. Significant differences between gel and spray subtreatments disappeared by 5 weeks after transplanting. Shelterbelts ameliorated crop microclimate thereby enhancing plant growth. Significantly, wind velocity at canopy height was reduced 40% on average and soil temperatures were about 4% warmer in the sheltered plots compared to the exposed plots during the first 5 weeks post-transplant. Muskmelon plants in the sheltered areas grew significantly faster than the plants in the exposed areas in 2 of the 3 years reported, with the 3-year average fresh weight increased by 168% due to wind protection. Overall transplanting success and early growth were enhanced the most by wind protection, followed by the polyacrylamide gel root dip, and least by the antitranspirant foliar spray. We conclude that microclimate modification by wind speed reduction can increase early muskmelon plant growth more consistently than the use of polyacrylamide gel as a root dip at transplanting or the use of an antitranspirant spray. A polyacrylamide gel root dip generally will provide more benefit during early muskmelon growth than the use of an antitranspirant spray.

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Nancy Kokalis-Burelle, C.S. Vavrina, M.S. Reddy, and J.W. Kloepper

Greenhouse and field trials were performed on muskmelon (Cucumis melo) and watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) to evaluate the effects of six formulations of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) that have previously been shown to increase seedling growth and induce disease resistance on other transplanted vegetables. Formulations of Gram-positive bacterial strains were added to a soilless, peat-based transplant medium before seeding. Several PGPR treatments significantly increased shoot weight, shoot length, and stem diameter of muskmelon and watermelon seedlings and transplants. Root weight of muskmelon seedlings was also increased by PGPR treatment. On watermelon, four PGPR treatments reduced angular leaf spot lesions caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. lachrymans, and gummy stem blight, caused by Didymella bryoniae, compared to the nontreated and formulation carrier controls. One PGPR treatment reduced angular leaf spot lesions on muskmelon compared to the nontreated and carrier controls. On muskmelon in the field, one PGPR treatment reduced root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) disease severity compared to all control treatments.

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E.R. Champaco, R.D. Martyn, and M.E. Miller

Rotting muskmelon fruits commonly are associated with commercial fields that are affected by the root rot/vine decline disease syndrome found in southern Texas. Four isolates of Fusarium solani previously shown to be either weakly pathogenic or nonpathogenic to muskmelon seedlings caused extensive rot on mechanically wounded muskmelon fruits. Two of these isolates caused more extensive fruit rot than either F. solani (Mart.) Sacc. f. sp. cucurbitae W.C. Snyder & H.N. Hans. or F. oxysporum Schlechtend.:Fr. melonis (Leach & Currence) W.C. Snyder & H.N. Hans., causal agents of fusarium crown and foot rot of cucurbits and fusarium wilt of muskmelon, respectively. In other tests, root-dip inoculation of seedlings showed that all muskmelon cultigens included in this study and the breeding line MR-1 were susceptible to a California and an Arkansas strain of F. s. f. sp. cucurbitae race 1.

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W.T. Frankenberger Jr. and M. Arshad

This study was conducted to determine the influence of l-tryptophan (l-TRP) applied to soil on the yield of two watermelon (Citrullus Lanatus L.) and one muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.) cultivars. Experiments were established in which l-TRP was applied to seedlings as a soil drench in the glasshouse ranging from 6 × 10-5 to 60 mg·kg-1 soil; the seedlings were transplanted into the field 2 weeks later. The application of l-TRP enhanced the cumulative weight of the melons 58% ('Royal Sweet' watermelon), 80% (`Royal Windsor' watermelon), and 42% (`Top Score' muskmelon) over their respective controls: the average weight per fruit was increased up to 43% for watermelon and 36% for muskmelon. No increase in yield was observed when l-TRP was applied to the seedlings directly in the field, but only when added in contained systems 2 weeks before transplanting into the field. The increase in yield was due to a physiological response rather `than a nutritional effect because of the low l-TRP concentrations applied.

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Ahmet Korkmaz and Robert J. Dufault

Muskmelon (Cucumis melo) seedlings are transplanted in late winter or early spring before last frost date to ensure early yields; however, this makes them very vulnerable to temperatures cycling between almost freezing and optimal temperatures. To simulate temperature alternations that may occur after field transplanting, `Athena', `Sugar Bowl', `Eclipse' muskmelon, and `Tesorro Dulce' honeydew (C. melo) transplants were subjected to 2 ± 1 °C (35.6 ± 1.8 °F) in a walk-in cooler and then to 29 ± 5 °C (84.2 ± 9.0 °F) in a greenhouse before field planting. In 1998, transplants were exposed to 2 °C for 9 to 54 hours, and for 9 to 81 hours in 1999. `Athena' and `Sugar Bowl' yielded less early melons in both years, whereas `Eclipse' and `Tesoro Dulce' early yields were only reduced in 1999. Total yields of `Athena' decreased linearly in both years with 10% yield reduction occurring with 12 to 21 hours of cold stress. Total yields of `Sugar Bowl' decreased linearly in both years with 11 to 18 hours of cold stress causing 10% yield reduction in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Therefore, early planting before last frosts of all these muskmelon and honeydew cultivars should be done with caution since reductions in early yields are highly probable.

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Maurice Ogutu

Colored plastic mulches can influence muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.) growth and yield. A study was carried out at the St. Charles Horticulture Research Center, St. Charles, Ill., to compare the effects of different colored plastic mulches on vine length and yield of muskmelons. An experiment was carried out with 10 treatments, namely, control (bare ground), and plastic mulches (black smooth, red, black embossed, blue, olive, yellow, clear, white, and reflective) in a complete randomized block and replicated four times. Muskmelon variety `Athena' seeds were started in the greenhouse in late Apr. 2004 in flats filled with Jiffy Mix, and transplanted in mid-May 2004. Seedlings planted in black embossed, olive, red, blue, and white plastic mulches had longer vines than seedlings transplanted in black smooth, reflective, clear, and yellow mulches by 24 July. Seedlings planted on the control (bare ground) had much shorter vines compared to seedlings in other treatments. The cumulative fruit number and weight was higher in blue, olive, red, and black embossed plastic mulches than in plants grown in clear, yellow, and reflective plastic mulch treatments. Plants grown in white and reflective mulch treatments had larger fruits than plants in other treatments. In comparison with black embossed plastic mulch, plants grown in blue, olive, and red plastic mulches had higher fruit number and yields.

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Gene Lester and Eduardo Stein

Changes in the physical and chemical properties of the plasma membrane from hypodermal mesocarp tissue of netted muskmelon (Cucumis melo L. var. reticulatus Naud.) fruit were compared in relation to the permeability changes of the same tissue during fruit maturation and storage at 4 or 24C. As muskmelon fruit progress from immaturity to maturity, and with storage of mature fruit at 4 or 24C, increased permeability of the hypodermal-mesocarp tissue occurs coincident with an increase in the saturation index of the plasma membrane phospholipids. Buoyant density of the plasma membrane from hypodermal mesocarp tissue increased from 1.13 to 1.14 g·cm-3 during fruit maturation. Vanadate-sensitive ATPase (EC 3.6.1.35) activity was highest in mature fruit at harvest. After 10 days of storage, vanadate-sensitive ATPase activity was much lower in fruit kept at 24C than in those kept at 4C. The decrease in vanadate-sensitive ATPase activity in fruit stored at 24C was correlated with increased hypodermal-mesocarp membrane permeability. We suggest that biochemical changes affecting the lipid matrix of the plasma membrane influence fruit membrane permeability and possibly muskmelon storage life.

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Entin Daningsih, Laurie Hodges, and James R. Brandle

Experiments were conducted during summer seasons from 1991 to 1994 to find out the effect of winds on early growth of muskmelon. A randomized complete-block design with sheltered and exposed areas as treatments was used. Sensors for air temperature and relative humidity (model HMP35C or model XN217, Campbell Scientific) were placed at canopy height and 3-cup anemometers (model 12102, R.M. Young, Traverse City, Mich.) were 50 cm aboveground. All sensors were connected to CR10 automatic data loggers and recorded hourly average data. Using regression analysis, we found that the accumulative windspeed frequency below threshold (<4 ms–1) can be used to predict both accumulative hourly heat units of air temperature (GDHT) with R2's more than 0.85 and total muskmelon fresh and dry weight and leaf area index at early growth. Predicted models using accumulative hourly windspeed frequency have R2's >0.80 in sheltered areas. Adding vapor pressure deficit to the model improves the prediction of muskmelon early growth, especially in exposed areas.

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W. Patrick Wechter, Ralph A. Dean, and Claude E. Thomas

Two 24-mer primers, MUSKFOM I and MUSKFOM II, were developed that amplify a 1.5-kb DNA fragment in race 1 Fusarium wilt resistant muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.), but not in race 1 susceptible germplasm tested. Three race 1 resistant cultivars and two race 1 resistant breeding lines as well as eight race 1 susceptible lines were analyzed using the two sequence-specific primers in the polymerase chain reaction. These primers should prove valuable for nondestructive determination of Fom 2 gene introgression in breeding programs.

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Gene E. Lester, John L. Jifon, and D. J. Makus

Netted muskmelon [Cucumis melo L. (Reticulatus Group)] fruit quality (ascorbic acid, β-carotene, total free sugars, and soluble solids concentration (SSC)) is directly related to plant potassium (K) concentration during fruit growth and maturation. During reproductive development, soil K fertilization alone is often inadequate due to poor root uptake and competitive uptake inhibition from calcium and magnesium. Foliar applications of glycine-complexed K during muskmelon fruit development has been shown to improve fruit quality, however, the influence of organic-complexed K vs. an inorganic salt form has not been determined. This glasshouse study investigated the effects of two K sources: a glycine-complexed K (potassium metalosate, KM) and potassium chloride (KCl) (both containing 800 mg K/L) with or without a non-ionic surfactant (Silwet L-77) on melon quality. Orange-flesh muskmelon `Cruiser' was grown in a glasshouse and fertilized throughout the study with soil-applied N–P–K fertilizer. Starting at 3 to 5 d after fruit set, and up to 3 to 5 d before fruit maturity at full slip, entire plants were sprayed weekly, including the fruit, with KM or KCl with or without a surfactant. Fruit from plants receiving supplemental foliar K had significantly higher K concentrations in the edible middle mesocarp fruit tissue compared to control untreated fruit. Fruit from treated plants were also firmer, both externally and internally, than those from non-treated control plants. Increased fruit tissue firmness was accompanied by higher tissue pressure potentials of K treated plants vs. control. In general, K treated fruit had significantly higher SSC, total sugars, total ascorbic acid, and β-carotene than control fruit. Fall-grown fruit generally had higher SSC, total sugars, total ascorbic acid and β-carotene concentrations than spring-grown fruit regardless of K treatment. The effects of surfactant were not consistent but in general, addition of a surfactant tended to affect higher SSC and β-carotene concentrations.