The development of short-internode cantaloupes has been of interest for a number of years because of the obvious advantages of potentially larger plant populations and, more recently, mechanical harvest. In those areas where furrow irrigation is practiced, the savings in labor requirement to keep vines trained up on the beds is also a factor.
Consumption of phytochemicals has been associated with reduced risks of human health dysfunctions such as cancers and heart disease. Such information has led to increased sales of fruits and vegetables. For example, in the United States, an estimated 23% increase in melon consumption (up to 13.2 lbs/capita/annum) has been recorded over 16 years. However, some health issues have been attributed to cantaloupe due to bacteria such as Salmonella attaching to inaccessible sites, such as the rind netting. Honeydew melons do not have a netted rind. The purpose of this study was to compare concentrations of antioxidants between cantaloupe and both green- and orange-fleshed honeydew melons during 14 days of storage to determine if orange-fleshed honeydew melon would represent a feasible alterative to cantaloupe to the increasingly health/food safety-conscious consumer. Cantaloupe (`Cruiser'; C), green-fleshed Honeydew (`HoneyBrew'; HB), and orange-fleshed Honeydew (`OrangeDew'; OD) melons were harvested in Texas at the beginning and at the end of the production season. β-carotene content was highest in OD, followed by C; no β-carotene was detected in HB. β-carotene levels did not change during storage. Phenolic levels increased in all three melon species during storage, whereas total ascorbate content declined in OD and in early harvest HB. Ascorbate peroxidase activities were lowest in OD, perhaps due to the lower ascorbate levels; little difference between the melon species in activities of the other ascorbate-associated enzymes were observed. Based on the phytochemicals measured in this study, choosing non-netted OD over netted C in order to reduce potential exposure to pathogens would not represent a less healthy food choice.
The phase out of methyl bromide has precipitated a need to reduce usage of the all purpose fumigant. Reduction in methyl bromide use can extend the life of existing stocks and make it more likely to continue critical use exemption for future production. Traditional widths for plastic mulch covered beds in Georgia ranges from 32 to 36 inches. By reducing bed top widths, it could be possible to reduce the amount of methyl bromide applied by as much as 60%. The objectives of this work were to evaluate the effects of narrower bed tops and lower rates of methyl bromide on pepper and cantaloupe growth and yield. Bed top widths of 36, 30, and 24 inches were each tested with broadcast rates of 400 and 300 lb/acre of both 67:33 and 50:50 methyl bromide-chloropicrin at Tifton, GA in the fall of 2005. Bed widths were the main plot and methyl bromide rates the sub plot. Plots were 20 feet long with two rows of pepper planted per bed with 12 inches between plants and one row of cantaloupe planted per bed with two feet between plants. All beds were on 6-ft centers and fertilizer rates were constant across plots within a crop. There were four replications. Otherwise normal cultural practices were employed. Crops were harvested at maturity and data collected on yield and plant growth. Pepper yields were depressed by early cold weather. The 24-inch bed tops produced significantly lower yields of extra large, large and total fruit, but had greater top dry weight and root fresh weight than the 36-inch beds. There were no differences found among methyl bromide rates for cantaloupe or for pepper except extra large fruit were greater at the highest rate compared to the lowest. There were no differences among bed top widths for cantaloupe yield or plant growth.
A system for collecting winter rainfall and storing it for crop use during the growing season was developed and tested for three seasons for non-irrigated cantaloupe production. In early fall raised beds on 2-m centers were shaped with two trenches ca. 30 cm wide and 10 cm deep spaced 50 cm apart. Black plastic mulch was applied over the beds, with small mounds of soil placed on the plastic over the trenches to conform the mulch to the shape of the beds. Slits 15 cm long were made in the bottom of the trenches at 1 m intervals. Fifty kg/ha of a polyacrylamide gel was incorporated into the top 10 cm of some beds prior to shaping. Precipitation falling prior to spring planting was channelled into the beds through the trenches and prevented from evaporating by the mulch. Cantaloupes were seeded through the plastic in the spring and grown without irrigation. The rainfall capture system increased soil moisture in the surface 15 cm by 50% and in the top 60 cm by over 20%. Plant stands were increased from <10% in uncovered plots to nearly 70% under the system. Under drought conditions in two of the three seasons, yields were significantly higher in the rainfall capture plots than in uncovered plots, although not commercially acceptable. In a wet season, similar differences were noted and good commercial yields were obtained with the system. The rainfall capture system in conjunction with supplemental irrigation has the potential to allow excellent cucurbit production with limited water.
Three transgenic yellow crookneck squash (Cucurbita pepo var. melopepo) and five transgenic cantaloupe (Cucumis melo, Reticulatus group) lines were field-tested in 1993 and 1994, respectively, for resistance to Zucchini Yellow Mosaic Virus and Watermelon Mosaic Virus II. During both years, non-transgenic plants were inoculated with virus before transplanting to provide a high virus threat to the transgenic plants. Before and after transplanting, serological (ELISA) testing was used to obtain baseline information on transformed plants and to confirm field virus infection. In both years, plant disease development was rated weekly; yield was assessed during 1993. Disease progression, yield, and end-of-season ELISA indicated a significant reduction in frequency of disease incidence in the transgenic lines. Total squash yields did not differ between the transformed and unchanged lines, but the transgenic lines yielded more marketable fruit than the non-transgenic line.
High populations of melon aphid (aphis gossypii) reduce cantaloupe plant growth and yield; effects on subsequent fruit quality are unknown. The purpose of this study was to evaluate fruit quality from plants with high and low aphid populations. Up to 50% of melons from plants having high aphid populations were unmarketable due to surface sooty mold. Melons from plants with high or low aphid populations, but not cultivars, were similar in flesh quality. The internal color of `Perlita' and `Sweet Surprise' was a more yellow hue while that of `TAM Uvalde' was more orange. `Sweet Surprise' melons were lower in percent soluble solids concentration and titratable acidity, but were higher in mg fructose/ml juice compared to the other cultivars. A trained taste panel of 30 people evaluated melons from 2 cultivars showing little damage from melon aphid infestations and from 2 cultivars exhibiting high damage. All melons had similar taste qualities with acceptable sweetness, flavor, odor and texture. These results show that high aphid populations deleteriously affect cosmetic appearance, but not flesh quality, of melons.
Economic analysis compared the returns of cropping systems and management practices for production of fall lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) and spring cantaloupe (Cucumis melo) following summer cover crops. The cover crop treatments included: cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] incorporated into the soil in the fall, cowpea used as mulch in the fall, sorghum sudangrass [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench] incorporated into the soil in the fall, and a bare ground control. Lettuce and cantaloupe were managed using conventional, integrated, and organic practices. The effect of each cropping system and management practice on crop yield, cost of production and net return was determined. In 1999 and 2000, yield and net return were greatest for cantaloupe and lettuce when the cowpea cover crop was incorporated into the soil before planting. The effect of crop management practice varied with type of cover crop. When lettuce was planted into cowpea-incorporated treatment in 1999, conventional management had the highest cash return followed by integrated crop management. In 2000, organically-grown lettuce after cowpea incorporated had the highest net return followed by integrated crop management grown under cowpea incorporated treatments. In 1999 and 2000, integrated cantaloupe following cowpea-incorporated treatment had the highest yield and cash-return. A 20% price premium for organic produce increased the net returns for the organic-grown lettuce and cantaloupe. Organic lettuce following cowpea-incorporated treatments produced a high net of $2,516/ha in 1999 and $5,971/ha in 2000. The net returns due to 20% organic premium price varied between 1999 and 2000 in cantaloupe production. They were highest for organic cantaloupe after bareground with a net return of $4,395 in 1999 and $3,148 in 2000 for organic cantaloupe after sudangrass.
A study was conducted to determine the influence of the ethylene action inhibitor, 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) on the shelf life and deterioration of fresh-cut cantaloupe (Cucumis melo var. reticulatus) during storage at 5 °C. Intact cantaloupe fruit, cv. Durango (3/4 to full-slip stage) were treated with 1-MCP (1 μL·L-1) for 24 h at 20 °C. Following cooling to 5 °C, the fruit were processed into ≈2.5-cm cubes and subsequently dipped in 1.34 mm sodium hypochlorite solution for 20 s. Fresh-cut cubes were stored in 1.7-L vented plastic containers for 12 d at 5 °C (85% RH). Intact fruit treated and stored under identical conditions were also examined. While 1-MCP-treated cantaloupe cubes were about 35% firmer than control cubes after the 24-h at 20 °C 1-MCP treatment, little softening occurred in either treatment during the subsequent 12-d at 5 °C storage period. In contrast, control and 1-MCP-treated intact fruit softened nearly 40% and 15%, respectively. 1-MCP did not significantly influence flesh color and soluble solid contents of either intact cantaloupe or fresh-cut cubes during storage at 5 °C. Increased decay incidence was observed in 1-MCP-treated fresh-cut cantaloupe cubes.
The author thanks Dean Liere and Alex May, Syngenta Seeds, Inc., Rogers Brand Vegetable Seeds, for supplying cantaloupe; Gene Lester for supplying honeydew; Ken Gross for supplying apples; and Jeanne M. Lea and Debbie Harrell for volatile
Commercially grown honeydew fruit (Cucumis melo Inodorus group) and netted cantaloupe fruit (C. melo Reticulatus group) in low-humidity regions of the U.S. are typically field packed, eliminating the possibility for postharvest chelated-calcium dip treatments to extend fruit shelf life. In this study, calcium treatments were applied to orange-flesh honeydew fruit commercially grown in 2001 and 2002 in Sacramento Valley, Calif. and orange-fleshed netted cantaloupe fruit commercially grown in 2002 in Imperial Valley, Calif., and Rio Grande Valley, Texas. Aminoacid-chelated calcium and mannitol-complexed calcium compounds were applied to field-grown plants at the rate of 2.3 L·ha-1 (1 qt/acre) at 0, 1, 2, or 4 total applications during growth of honeydew and cantaloupe fruit. Applications were A) at female flowering, B) within 15 days (cantaloupe) or 20 days (honeydew) after flowering, C) within 30 days (cantaloupe) or 40 days (honeydew) after female flowering, and/or D) within 3 to 5 days before abscission. One application equaled (A) or (D), two applications equaled (A + B) or (C + D) and four applications equaled (A + B + C + D). Evaluations of fully abscised fruit were exterior and interior firmness, marketability, calcium concentrations, interior soluble solids concentration (sugars), and consumer preference (taste) following harvest and up to 3 weeks commercial/retail storage. Cantaloupe fruit at both locations did not appear to benefit from preharvest plant applications of calcium when compared to fruit from plants treated with water. Honeydew fruit, however, did and the benefit was observed both years. Honeydew fruit that received four preharvest plant applications of calcium, regardless of source, were generally superior in firmness, marketability, and had a higher calcium concentration than fruit from plants receiving water or one or two applications of calcium. Fruit sugars and taste were not affected by preharvest plant applications of calcium.