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Robert J. Dufault, Ahmet Korkmaz, Brian K. Ward, and Richard L. Hassell

Extending the production season of melons (Cucumis melo L.) by using very early and late planting dates outside the range that is commercially recommended will increase the likelihood of developing a stronger melon industry in South Carolina. The objective of this study was to determine if early (February) transplanted melons or later (June through July) planting dates are effective in extending the production season of acceptable yields with good internal quality of the melon cultivars: Athena, Eclipse, and Sugar Bowl and Tesoro Dulce (a honeydew melon). Melons were transplanted in Charleston, S.C., in 1998, 1999, and 2000 on 12 and 26 Feb., 12 and 26 Mar., 9 and 23 Apr., 7 and 21 May, 4 and 18 June, and 2 July and required 130, 113, 105, 88, 79, 70, 64, 60, 60, 59, and 56 days from field transplanting to reach mean melon harvest date, respectively. Stands were reduced 67%, 41%, and 22% in the 12 and 26 Feb. and 12 Mar. planting dates, respectively, in contrast to the 26 Mar. planting date but ≤15% in all other planting dates. Planting in February had no earliness advantage because the 12 and 26 Feb. and 12 and 26 Mar. planting dates, all reached mean melon harvest from 19 to 23 June. Comparing the marketable number of melons produced per plot (averaged over cultivar) of the standard planting dates of 12 and 26 Mar. indicated decreases of 21%, 32%, 36%, 36%, 57%, 57%, and 54%, respectively with the planting dates of 9 and 23 Apr., 7 and 21 May, 4 and 18 June, and 2 July. The most productive cultivar of all was `Eclipse', which yielded significantly more melons per plot in all 11 planting dates followed by `Athena' (in 8 of 11 planting dates), `Tesoro Dulce' (7 of 11 planting dates), and `Sugar Bowl' (2 of 11 planting dates). In our study, any planting date with melon quality less than the USDA standard of “good internal quality” or better (Brix ≥9.0) was considered unacceptable because of potential market rejection. Therefore, the earliest recommended planting date with acceptable yield and “good internal quality” was 12 Mar. for all cultivars; the latest planting dates for `Athena', `Eclipse', `Tesoro Dulce', and `Sugar Bowl' were 4 June, 18 June, 7 May, and 9 Apr., respectively. With these recommendations, the harvest season of melons lasted 40 days from 24 June to 3 Aug. for these four cultivars, which extended the production season an additional 2 weeks longer than the harvest date of last recommended 21 May planting date.

Open access

Phillip A. Wadl, Livy H. Williams III, Matthew I. Horry, and Brian K. Ward

The yield and insect resistance of 12 sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) clones grown in two different production systems (organic black plastic mulch and conventional bare ground) were evaluated in 2016 and 2017 in coastal South Carolina. Significant differences in total storage root yield, marketable storage root yield, U.S. No. 1 storage root yield, and percent of U.S. No. 1 storage roots in all trials were found, except for percent of U.S. No. 1 storage roots in 2017 for the organic black plastic mulch trial. In the organic black plastic mulch trials, ‘Bonita’ and USDA-04-136 consistently produced high marketable yields, whereas ‘Ruddy’ and USDA-W388 consistently produced the lowest marketable yields. ‘Averre’, ‘Beauregard’, ‘Covington’, and USDA-09-130 exhibited variable performance, with marketable yields among the highest in a single year. For the conventional trials, USDA-04-136 consistently produced high marketable yields, whereas ‘Ruddy’ and USDA-W-388 consistently produced the lowest marketable yields. ‘Averre’, ‘Bonita’, ‘Covington’, and USDA-09-130 exhibited variable performance, with marketable yields among the highest in a single year. For the organic black plastic mulch, significant differences were detected in the percent of uninjured roots and percent white grub (primarily Plectris aliena) damage in 2016 and in wireworm (Elateridae)-cucumber beetle (Diabrotica)-flea beetle (Systena) severity index (WDS severity index) in 2016 and 2017. USDA-04-136 and USDA-W-388 consistently had the lowest WDS severity index, whereas ‘Covington’ consistently had the highest WDS severity index. For the conventional trials, significant differences were found among clones in both years for all insect rating variables, except for percent sweetpotato weevil (Cylas formicarius elegantulus) damage. ‘Ruddy’, USDA-04-136, and USDA-W-388 consistently yielded the highest percent of uninjured roots, whereas ‘Averre’, ‘Bonita’, SC-1149-19, and USDA-09-130 consistently had the lowest percent of uninjured roots. The research reported here for yield and insect resistance under conventional and organic production systems will be useful for producers in the selection of cultivars suitable for growth in South Carolina.