Submitted to: Journal of American Society of Horticulture Science
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/20/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: Interpretive Summary: Muskmelon is an important Horticultural crop. World-wide muskmelon production is about 18,040,900 Mt (Metric ton) with China, Turkey, Iran, the U.S. and Spain being major producers. Arizona, California, and Texas are the primary muskmelon production areas in the United States. Commercial muskmelon has a vining or continuously growing plant growth habit. It typically produces melon fruit from female flowers relatively distant from the center of the plant. Male flowers are usually born at the center of the plant and provide no possibility for fruit production. Moreover, commercial melon varieties produce 2 to 3 lateral branches at the base of the plant. The development and testing of early fruiting, multiple lateral (4-5) plants might provide a means of increasing early yield. A project was designed to develop and test such melon types under different plant row spacings. Data indicate that early flowering, multiple branching experimental types have the potential for increasing early yields in melon. The development and public release of such melon types will allow growers to enter an early market not now possible with high yielding varieties for once-over harvest. This will allow them to have added managerial flexibility in their total crop production strategies.
Technical Abstract: Muskmelon (Cucumis melo L) genotypes, Birdsnest 1 (Qalya' BN1), Birdsnest 2 (BN2), and Mission' (V) were used to determine the effects of plant architecture and spacing on fruit sugar concentration and yield. The BN1 and BN2 genotypes possessed a highly branched growth habit specific to birdsnest melon types but not characteristic of standard indeterminate vining types (e.g. Mission'). Experiments were conducted at the Hancock and Arlington Experimental Farms in Wisconsin where plant response to two within row spacings 35cm (72,600 plants ha1) and 70cm (36,300 plants ha1) in rows on 210cm row centers was examined. Genotypes were grown in a randomized complete block design with four replications at each location and evaluated for primary lateral branch number, fruit number per plant, fruit number per hectare, average fruit weight, yield (g) per plant, yield (MT) ha1 and fruit sugar concentration. All genotypes produced higher yield, fruit number and sugar concentration on the mineral soil at Arlington than at Hancock (sandy soil). The main effect of genotypes was significant for all traits examined. BN1 and V genotypes had greater yield (gram per plant, yield (MT) ha1 and average fruit weight) and higher fruit quality (fruit sugar concentration) than the BN2 genotype. Spacing affected all traits except primary branch number and fruit sugar concentration. As within-row spacing increased from 35 to 70cm, fruit number per plant, yield per plant and average fruit weight increased, while yield (MT) ha1 and fruit number ha1 decreased.