PROJECT LEADER(S): Allan C. Thornton
Specialty melons are a good fit for traditional watermelon and cantaloupe growers. Advanced selections from the Specialty Crops Program allow on-farm trials such as this to have the most potential impact without having to search through numerous, unproven varieties. Two of the melons in this trial received favorable comments at the roadside stand where offered for sampling. The impact of this is the potential of new products and more diversity on the farm.
Nine specialty melon lines were transplanted April 23, 2003. The melons were evaluated for yield, quality, and shelf life. The melons included and their types are listed in the table below.
Test was planted on black plastic spaced 6’ and 2’ in row spacing with a total of 8 plants per plot. Treatments were replicated twice and 4’ alleys were used between treatments. Harvest took place July 1, 2003. Yield was recorded in weight and number of fruit. Sugar content was evaluated with a hand held refractometer.
The 2003 season was very harsh in Sampson County. Excessive rains plagued this trial from the start. Melons grew well until the vines started running off the plastic. At that point, foliar disease became a problem even though appropriate fungicide sprays were made. Disease defoliation ratings in ranged from 45 to 70 percent at harvest. A problem of greater consequence, however, was the phytophthora fruit rot that began as the melons neared maturity. As a result, some melons actually had zero yields. Percentage of rotten fruit from phytophthora ranged from 18 to 100. Sprite and Honey Pearl held up better than any of the others both in yield and disease pressure.
Sprite oriental melon and Honey Pearl honeydew were by far the best melons in this trial. It is difficult, however, to rule out the others as possible good melons in a more normal production season. Most years are not going to be nearly as difficult in terms of disease pressure.
2003 Specialty Melon Trial - Sampson County
Updated February, 2005