The melons , along with watermelons are fruits par excellence in the hot summer. Its high water content and sweet taste guarantee a pleasant end to a meal. Today we want to replace having to go to the supermarket for one by having to go to the garden to harvest it. If you have intrigue about what is the most suitable for growing melons here we will show you.
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO GROWING MELONS IN THE ORCHARD
The melon ( Cucumis melo) is a herbaceous plant with a creeping habit. It belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, such as cucumber, watermelon , pumpkin, etc. It is a crop highly conditioned by climatic factors and a “thirsty” plant for water and nutrients. Sure, the result is spectacular.
A large fruit full of water and sugars that almost everyone loves and enjoys when the heat hits. In short, a marvel.
Of course, here we are not discovering gunpowder. This melon was already known in Ancient Egypt, three centuries before Jesus Christ.
HOW DOES THE WEATHER AFFECT THE MELON?
The melon is a crop of high temperatures, hot climates and not necessarily humid. In fact, with humidity and poor lighting alters the production and quality of the fruits. Summer temperatures are needed where during the day they reach 27º C and at night they do not drop below 10º C.
The frost condition in melon cultivation occurs from 1º C, although it is best not to even reach higher temperatures, since growth stops from 15º C during the day.
All this leads us, at the user level, that it should be planted when the temperature is good. Some farmers advance cultivation by arranging tunnels that gradually increase the temperature. In addition, it has the advantage that it offers the melon some protection against insects that carry viruses.
Although the melon needs continuous humidity in the soil for the roots to capture all the nutrients we provide, the environmental humidity must be relatively low.
From flowering to fruit ripening, the relative humidity is optimal at values ranging between 60-70%. Before the start of flowering, this humidity can be higher, without causing problems in the melon.
An important fact regarding luminosity is that excessive light only affects the melon when it is accompanied by excessive heat.
However, as such, the melon needs many hours of light, and it is a direct cause that the plant grows more or less quickly.
THE BEST SOIL FOR GROWING MELONS
One that is light and has rich humus or compost content . Because the melon has an abundant production of roots and fast growth (sometimes reaching 1 meter deep, it is necessary to do a bottom plow (it is not necessary to reach the meter!;)). As for the pH that we always mention, it is usually between 6.5-7.
The saline soils are not suitable for growing melons, and lowering its ability to absorb nutrients and its production is reduced.
However, the melon has developed a good capacity to produce in soils with a high content of salts, measured in electrical conductivity. In this case, melons with an EC of between 3 and 3.5 dS / m can be produced without major problems (providing a lot of conductivity with the fertilizer). From 4.5-5 dS / m, the productive capacity of the melon tends to fall.
Melon is moderately resistant to salinity, so you don’t have to be so careful about water quality. Regarding the dose d and irrigation we will distribute growth phases:
- Germination until the first flowers appear: constant watering, with moisture in the soil.
- Fertilization of the flowers until the first fruits are formed: irrigation must be increased since the fruits absorb a lot of water.
- Fruit growth to final size: higher demand for water by the plant.
- Ripening and harvesting: the water supply is reduced to levels of point 1.
In short, and in summary, most cucurbits need high doses of water and frequent watering. Keep in mind that they are grown when temperatures are high, and that their fruits contain a lot of water. Of course, you have to get away from the puddles that cause rotting.
One of the most accepted and accurate ways to calculate the irrigation dose is by the FAO penman monteith method. From a series of data such as evapotranspiration or Kc (specific coefficient of each crop and phenological situation), it is possible to know the real dose that each plant needs.
It must be borne in mind that irrigation in the cultivation of melons is a very important factor. Bear in mind that a 50% reduction in irrigation allocation causes a 30% loss in production.
Per hectare, a common melon usually has a water consumption of about 2,000-2,500 cubic meters. However, at the orchard level, it is necessary to see the amount of water per plant, taking into account that for one hectare about 5,000 plants are usually planted.
Melon in growth phase: 4-5 irrigations a week of between 1 and 2.5 liters per plant.
As it grows we go to 3 liters per plant with the same frequency of watering.
In a state of maximum growth, the melon needs between 4 and 5 liters per plant with 4 waterings a week.
As they set and grow fruits, the water dosage is reduced to 4 liters per plant with the same irrigation frequency. Later, when all the melons are in the fattening and ripening phase, irrigations of 3 liters per plant 3 or 4 days a week.
In the case that tensiometers are used to see the amount of water readily available through the roots, these are the average values.
Light or sandy soils: tensiometer reading value around 10-25 cb.
Heavy to clayey soils: tensiometer reading value around 20-25 cb.
The lower the tensiometer reading value, the more readily available water the plant will have. For this reason, in clay soils or those with a high moisture retention capacity, the values are higher (20-25 cb).
These tensiometers, as usual, are highly conditioned by ambient humidity and soil temperature. They require constant (daily) surveillance to know when to water. Many times we will be surprised, thinking that we have to irrigate when the values indicate data that says otherwise.
Based on these data, we gain experience in knowing when and how to water.
CRITICAL IRRIGATION MOMENTS
As in many other crops, there are periods when a greater amount of water is demanded and this, in the cultivation of melons, is a very important factor.
At the beginning of the crop, just a few days after planting, it is important to give frequent and abundant waterings, which facilitate the rooting of the melon.
During fruit ripening , watering must be continuous and frequent, since a reduction in the amount of water supplied causes a decrease in the size of the fruits. However, at this stage it is not necessary to overdo it as an excess of free water causes cracking of the fruits and reduces the sugar content or Brix degrees.
PLANTING, SOWING AND OTHER THINGS IN MELON CULTIVATION
One method to germinate melon seeds ahead of time is to arrange them on damp kitchen paper on a cupboard (always keeping the same temperature), until the first sprouts emerge. After normal sowing in definitive land.
When the first melons come out, being a creeping plant, the fruits are in contact with the ground, which if it is wet (as it should be) can induce rotting on them . It is best to elevate them either by placing them in jars or on boxes until they mature.
FERTILIZATION IN MELON CULTIVATION
Fertilization is a very important part of melon cultivation. However, to see the importance of water dosage, it is not as important as the irrigation that we carry out on the melon.
Average values (although many are found in different bibliographies) for the consumption of fertilizer units are as follows:
Nitrogen fertilizer units : 175
Phosphorus fertilizer units : 50
Potassium fertilizer units : 250
Calcium fertilizer units : 50
WHAT VARIETY TO CHOOSE?
There is a great variety of melons, of different sizes and colors. We give you an example of a few:
- Cantaloup: Dalton, Magenta, Lunabel, Vulcano, Tornado, Sirio, Aurabel.
- American Cantalup: Durango, Acclaim, Impac, Ovation, Cruiser.
- Canary yellow: Indálico, Cartago, A. canario, Mesol, Jaune carari.
- Spanish greens: Sancho, 5 jotas, Daniel, Campiño, Abran, Cantagrillo, Cantasapo.
- Galia: Ajax, Aitana, Jalisco, Siglo, Solarking, Primal.
MOST NOTABLE PESTS AND DISEASES IN MELON CULTIVATION
The field technician or farmer knows that cucurbits, in this case we include melon, is a delicacy for a large number of pests and diseases. We could highlight the aphid, the red spider, the whitefly, the powdery mildew , mildew , etc. However, we can also find these others:
- Gray worms ( Agrotis sp,).
- Wire worms ( Agriotes ssp.).
- Mining dipterans ( Liriomyza ssp.).
- Antracnosis (Colletotrichum oligochaetum).
- Botritis (Botrytis cinerea).
- Fusariosis (Fusarium oxysporum ).