Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2008
Publication Date: June 2, 2008
Citation: Roberts, W., Bruton, B.D., Fish, W.W., Taylor, M. 2008. Melon types and cultivars grown with organic and synthetic fertilizers [abstract]. HortScience. 43(3):629.
For three years, twelve melon cultivars were grown with either synthetic or organic (poultry litter) fertilizer. Both fertilizers were applied at 100 lbs N, 100 lbs P2O5, and 100 lbs K2O per acre. In order to satisfy the requirements of the USDA National Organic Program, all fertilizer was applied at least 120 days prior to harvest. When yields were pooled across cultivars, average yields from synthetic fertilizer exceeded yields from organic poultry litter fertilizer in 2007, but not in 2005 or 2006. Neither synthetic nor organic fertilizer produced statistically greater yields than did the other fertilizer material in the first two years of the study. In 2007, prolonged rainfall occurred throughout the growing season. This may have affected treatment efficiencies and yields. Nutrients that may have leached from the root zone could not be re-applied because of the 120 day mandatory waiting period between application of poultry litter and melon harvest. Cultivar yield responses varied with year. Yields ranged from about 1 to about 15 tons per acre, depending on the cultivar and the year. Foliar disease ratings were taken in 2006, when disease losses from Macrophomina phaseolina were prevalent. Great variation existed in disease resistance among cultivars. Fertilizer had little effect on foliar disease ratings, but cultivar had a major effect on disease ratings. Honeydew melons were more resistant to disease development from Macrophomina phaseolina than were the other melon cultivars.