HORT410 - Vegetable Crops
Muskmelons (Cantaloupes) - Notes
Common name: muskmelon also called cantaloup(e) or melon.
Latin name: Cucumis melo L.
Family name: Cucurbitaceae [Cucurbitaceae Images].
Diploid (2n = 24).
Harvested organ: fruits.
Probably introduced into North America during the 16th century.
Muskmelon history (TAMU).
The two most horticulturally important melon groups in the U.S. are:
1. C. melo cantalupensis (cantaloupe or muskmelon) - medium sized fruits; netted, warty or scaly surfaces; flesh usually orange but sometimes green; flavor aromatic or musky; fruit dehiscent at maturity; usually andromonoecious.
Some (e.g. Nonnecke, 1989) distinguish between C. melo var. cantaloupensis (the true cantaloupe; medium sized, rough warty, scaly but not netted surface; grown mostly in Europe) and C. melo var. reticulous (netted or
nutmeg muskmelons with medium-sized fruit, netted surface, flesh green to deep salmon-orange in color; includes the cultivars commercially grown in N. America).
Immature melons used fresh in salads, cooked (soup, stew, curry, stir-fry) or pickled.
Mature fruit eaten fresh as a dessert fruit, canned or used for syrup or jam; dehydrated slices (lightly processed) for short-term or moderate storage can be reconstituted; and the pressed juice can be canned.
Melon seeds are a dietary source of unsaturated vegetable oil and protein, and may be lightly roasted and eaten like nuts.
Melons may be andromonoecious (perfect and staminate flowers), gynoecious (pistillate flowers), gynomonoecious (perfect and pistillate flowers), hermaphrodite (perfect flowers), or monoecious (pistillate and staminate flowers).
Monoecious and andromonoecious are the most common.
Hybrid gynoecious melons (with multiple disease resistances, earliness, uniformity of harvest and fruit quality) becoming increasingly popular.
Two major genes control sex expression in melon (A and G):
2. C. melo inodorus (the winter melon) - smooth or wrinkled surface; flesh usually white or green and lacking in musky odor; usually longer-keeping than cantalupensis; not dehiscent at maturity; usually andromonoecious; includes the smooth-skinned, green-fleshed honeydew; the dark green, orange-fleshed Persian; the yellow-skinned, green- or white-fleshed casaba; and the Crenshaw, which has a dark green, wrinkled rind and pink flesh.
A-G- = monoecious
gy interacts with A and G to produce a stable gynoecious phenotype.
Pollinated by honey bees; 1 to 2 bee colonies per acre recommended.
Cold-sensitive, warm season.
Optimum soil pH: 6.3 to 6.8.
Direct seeded or transplanted.
Plastic mulch recommended.
Winter melons such as honeydew, Crenshaw, Persian and casaba do not form an abscission layer; therefore the stem should be cut at maturity.
When mature muskmelons dehisce the fruit slips free from the stem attachment.
Harvested manually when fruits are in the half or full slip stage Fruit harvested prior to the half slip stage may be too green and fail to ripen properly.
After harvest, the internal temperature of muskmelons should be brought to 10 to 15 C as rapidly as possible to avoid sugar losses with forced-air cooling.
Muskmelons best stored at 3 to 5 C and a high relative humidity (95%).
Major diseases of muskmelons in the Midwest:
Disease resistance genes in melon include:
A-gg = gynomonoecious
aaG- = andromonoecious
aagg = hermaphroditic
Ac (resistance to Alternaria leaf blight)
Major insect pests of muskmelons in the Midwest include:
The striped and spotted cucumber beetles carry the bacterium Erwinia tracheiphila responsible for bacterial wilt disease.
Control of bacterial wilt entails effective cucumber beetle population management.
Some muskmelon varieties are more susceptible to striped cucumber beetle feeding, but all are vulnerable to the bacterial wilt disease Care should be taken in applying pesticides that are toxic to honey bees during flowering, as this will decrease pollination and fruit set.
Pc-1 & -2 (resistance to downy mildew)
Fom-1, -2 & -3 (resistance to Fusarium wilt)
O, Pm-1, -2, -3, -4 & 5 (resistance to powdery mildew)
Prv (resistance to watermelon mosaic virus 1, and papaya ringspot virus, strain W)
Zym (resistance to zucchini yellow mosaic virus)
(see: ID-56: Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers 2003 - Cucumber, Muskmelon, and Watermelon (PURDUE) [pdf] for information on muskmelon varieties, spacing, fertilizing, irrigation, harvesting and specific muskmelon disease, weed and insect control recommendations for the Midwest)
Sources of information:
Foster, R., Brust, G., Barrett, B. Watermelons, muskmelons, and cucumbers. In "Vegetable Insect Management With Emphasis on the Midwest", (ed. R. Foster, B. Flood), Meister Publishing Co., Willoughby, Ohio, pp. 157 - 168 (1995).
Nonnecke, I.L. "Vegetable Production", Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY (1989).
Phillips, R., Rix, M. "The Random House Book of Vegetables", Random House, NY (1993).
Hall, C.V. Melon. In "The Software Toolworks Multimedia Encyclopedia", Version 1.5, Grolier, Inc. (1992).Nonnecke, I.L. "Vegetable Production" Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY (1989).
McCreight, J.D., Nerson, H., Grumet, R. Melon, Cucumis melo L. In "Genetic Improvement of Vegetable Crops" (ed. G. Kalloo, B.O. Bergh), Pergamon Press, Oxford, U.K., pp. 267-294 (1993).
Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers, ID-56, eds. R. Foster, D. Egel, E. Maynard, R. Weinzierl, H. Taber, L.W. Jett, B. Hutchinson, Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, 2003.
Musmade, A.M., Desai, U.T. Cucumber and melon. In "Handbook of Vegetable Science and Technology: Production, Composition, Storage, and Processing", (ed. D.K. Salunkhe, S.S. Kadam), Marcel Dekker, Inc., NY, pp. 245-272 (1998).