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UT Specialty Melon Variety Trial, 2011

Annette Wszelaki, Susannah Amundson and Walt Hitch



Thirty specialty melon varieties were evaluated for field performance and fruit quality when grown in the Southeast. Varieties include: Cantaloupe, Galia, Canary, Asian, Crenshaw, Ananas, Honeydew and Charentais. Melons were evaluated for yield, quality and taste.

Materials and Methods

The study was performed at the University of Tennessee Plateau AgResearch and Education Center in Crossville, Tennessee (PREC). Varieties were direct seeded into black plastic mulch on 7 June 2011. Each variety was replicated 4 times in a randomized complete block design. Plots were 20 ft. long with 10 plants/plot at an in-row spacing of 2 ft. and a between row spacing of 7 ft. Plots were spaced 10 ft. in each row.

Three hundred pounds/acre of 15-15-15 was applied and incorporated into the field prior to planting. Drip irrigation was used to provide water and fertilizer every 2 to 4 days, as needed. The first 2 fertilizer applications were of 16-16-16 to deliver 4 lb N/acre, subsequent fertilizer applications delivered 5 lb N/acre with 20-20-20, with a total of 15 applications over the season. One application of potassium nitrate and magnesium sulfate was applied on 9 August. Pre-emergent herbicides, Command, Curbit, and Roundup, were applied and incorporated between rows one day after planting. Admire Pro at a rate of 12 oz/acre, was applied through the drip line on 10 June and again on 16 July. A rotation of foliar insecticides was applied 5 times throughout the season beginning on 9 July (Sevin XLR (applied 9 July, 26 July and 19 August), Asana XL (applied 5 August), and Capture 2EC (applied 12 August)). Weekly foliar fungicides applications rotating between Quadris and Bravo Ridomil Gold began on 26 July.

The germination rate was determined on 20 June, 13 days after planting. Disease ratings were taken weekly, beginning on 7 July, until general plant dieback made it too difficult to distinguish diseases. Harvest began 8 August and was done twice weekly until 7 Sept. Three fruit from each replication were assessed for taste, soluble solids, flesh color, rind color, fruit shape and net type. For taste evaluations, ten untrained panelists evaluated the melon samples in random order. For each sample, panelists scored taste using a five-point scale (1=dislike extremely, 3=neither like nor dislike, and 5=like extremely).


Melon varieties are discussed by type and are organized in Tables 1 and 2 from highest to lowest yielding within each type.

Asian. Sun Jewel was the only Asian variety of melon included in the trial and produced a large number of fruit; however, it is very susceptible to cracking which accounts for the high percentage of culls. Despite its high sugar content, it was rated only mildly favorable in taste tests.

Ananas. Ananas varieties ranged in size from 4 to over 7 lbs/fruit. Large in size, 1816AN OF and Antoinette were the highest yielding Ananas melons by weight, but had poor taste ratings. San Juan, while lowest yielding with a shorter harvest period, was higher in sugar content and was rated the highest, along with ACX 2268G, among all melons in taste tests. San Juan also had more culls, which may be attributed to over-ripening. Ananas melons ripen quickly and have a short shelf-life and, therefore, should be harvested daily.

Canary. Canary varieties ranged in size from 2 to nearly 6 lbs/fruit. ACX 2047CN, a small to medium fruit, was the highest yielding of all melons by weight and number with good sugar content equal to that of ACR 1056CN and less than that of Brilliant, which scored well in taste tests. Ripeness is difficult to determine for this melon type. Harvest should be done when rind is dark yellow, melons do not slip from vine.

Crenshaw. Lilly had the largest fruit of all melons in the trial (8 lbs/fruit) and was a high yielding melon that was well favored in taste tests for its sweet mild flavor. Melons are harvested yellow and at the forced-slip stage.

Galia. Galia varieties ranged from 2 to 6 lbs/fruit. ACX 425G and ACX2268G were similar in both yield by weight and sugar content, with ACX 2268G being more favorable in taste tests. However, at 3.2 lbs./fruit versus 5.8 lbs./fruit, ACX 425G yielded almost twice as many fruit as ACX 2268G. In taste tests ACX 2268G, along with San Juan, was rated the highest for taste among all melons. Diplomat did not rate well in taste tests and had the highest percentage of culls.

Honeydew. Honeydew varieties ranged from 3 to 6 lbs/fruit. Summer Dew 262 HQ was the top yielding hybrid honeydew by weight. Snow Leopard, a specialty honeydew with variegated cream and speckled dark green rind, was the highest yielder by number of fruit with over 11,000 fruit/acre. Honey Yellow and Honey Orange had the highest yields by weight for the specialty honeydews with the lowest percentage of culls. Honey Yellow and Honey Pearl had exceptional sugar content and rated well in taste tests. All were difficult to determine ripeness, so actual days to harvest may be sooner than what is reported here. When ripe, melons turn from a light green to white to a darkish cream color that is difficult to discern. They do not slip from vine.

Muskmelon. Edens Gem, a small attractive fruit (1.5 lbs/fruit) with low soluble solids content, was rated the poorest tasting melon in the trial. However, it was the highest yielding melon by number of fruit/acre (17,733 fruit/acre) in the trial. Harvest timing is difficult, when melons easily slip from vine they are yellowish-orange in color but at this point are past the edible ripe stage. Harvest should be done when the green heavily netted fruit are just beginning to lighten and have to be forced from vine.

Charentais. Savor, a small attractive fruit (~2 lbs/acare), had good sugar content and was favored in taste tests. However, it had a high percentage of culls. Similar to Edens Gem, Savor was also difficult to discern optimum harvest timing. Once it slips easily from the vine it is cream in color with light green sutures and over-ripe with mushy bland flesh. Harvest should be done when rind is grayish green with dark green sutures, slightly lighter in color than its unripe stage.

Cantaloupe. (Eastern and Western Shippers, LSL, and Harper). Cantaloupe varieties ranged from 3.5 to 6 lbs/fruit. XLT 9276 was the highest yielding cantaloupe by weight, as well as one of the top yielding melons overall. Samoa, a Harper Long Shelf Life (LSL) type, had the largest fruit. But Samoa, along with Origami, had the lowest taste ratings among cantaloupes. ACR-4249 had the highest yield by number with over 10,000 fruit/acre and along with ACR-7609 ranked the highest among LSL types for taste. Sweet Granite, while low yielding and not a LSL, was rated the best tasting cantaloupe and one of the top tasting melons overall.

Disease Ratings With the spray schedule, disease and insect pressure was minimal until the last couple weeks of the season when powdery mildew greatly impacted some varieties, notably Lilly, Edens Gem , Sweet Granite and Honey Pearl (Table 3). Ten varieties showed tolerance to powdery mildew throughout the season: 1816AN OF, San Juan, Gallipoli, XLT 9276, ACX 145HD XOF, Samoa, XLT 9000, Origami, ACR-4249 and ACR-7609. Bacterial wilt was present in a few varieties (San Juan, Honey Orange, and ACR-7609) beginning mid-season, however, it was not statistically significant and did not greatly affect the overall plot or yield. Septoria leaf spot damage remained minor (<5%) throughout the season and did not progress after the second evaluation day on 13 July.




Copyright © 1999 by The University of Tennessee. All rights reserved.

This research represents one season's data and does not constitute recommendations.  After sufficient data is collected over the appropriate number of seasons, final recommendations will be made through research and extension publications.




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