honeydew melonsHoneydew melon is one of the more expensive and in demand fruit vegetables. It is an annual crop under the family Cucurbitaceae. It belongs to the melon group Cucumis melo var. inodorus generally called the winter melons, which include the smooth-skinned green-fleshed Persian, the yellow-skinned, green-or white-fleshed casaba and the dark green, wrinkled-skin and pink-fleshed Crenshaw. The other group is C. melo var.cantalupensis, the cantaloupes or muskmelons.

Mature fruits are eaten fresh. It can be canned, dehydrated or made into juice. Immature fruits may be used in salads, cooked or pickled. Seeds are a dietary source of unsaturated vegetable oil and protein, and may be roasted and eaten like watermelon seeds.

Honeydew melon is rich in sugars, vitamins and minerals. The edible portion of the mature fruit is about 45-80%.

Varieties

Honey World; Honey Sweet; Elizabeth; Crème de Menthe

Climatic And Soil Requirements

In the Philippines, honeydew melon can be grown from low to mid elevations. Bulk of production is in the low, flat areas during the dry season. Melons, however, can be grown throughout the year even in unprotected conditions.

Honeydew melon grows best in clay loan to clayey soils with a pH of 6.0-6.8. During the dry season (Nov.-April), paddy soil with ample irrigation water is best. During the wet season, sloping areas for adequate drainage are preferred. Select areas, which have not been planted to melons or related crops in the last two years.

Land Preparation

Prepare the area at least one month before transplanting. Plow and harrow twice, pulverize the soil and remove plant debris.

Non-trellised. Prepare 20-30 cm high and 1-m wide adjacent plots beds for furrow irrigation. The set of adjacent plots should be 3-4 m apart depending on variety. This will be the vine-crawling area.

Mix 1-2 kg well-decomposed animal manure per linear meter of beds. Apply ½ of N and K requirements and all of P based on soil analysis. In the absence of soil analysis, use NPK recommendations. Soil granular insecticides may also be applied.

Use 1.0-1.2 m-wide plastic mulch with silver and black finish. Roll out the plastic, silver side up. Secure the sides with soil. It is best to apply plastic mulch around midday when the temperature is high to structure the plastic mulch well

Trellised. Prepare raised beds 20-30 cm high and 1.0-1.2 cm wide spaced 0.5-0.75 cm apart. Apply the same rates of fertilizer and animal manure as the non-trellised set-up. Use the plastic mulch.

Seedling Production

The growing medium is a mixture of equal parts garden soil, manure or compost and rice hull charcoal. Soil sterilization is optional. Drench with Captan, if necessary.

Use plastic nursery trays with 60-100 holes per tray. Water first before sowing. Sow one seed per hole pointed end first. Condition the seeds before sowing by soaking in water for 30 minutes. Mulch under partial shade or net until germination.

Water daily or as needed. Spray foliar fertilizer and fungicides (Mancozeb) once a week. Spray insecticides if necessary. Harden the seedlings 3-5 days before transplanting.

Transplanting

It is best top transplant during the afternoon. Make holes spaced 0.4-0.5 m apart on the plastic mulch with a pointed stick or hot can. Drench the holes with Captan and transplant one seedling per hill. Water again after transplanting. Allow about 10% extra seedlings for replanting.

Trellising

Trellising is recommended during the wet season and under plastic. Vertical-and-A frame type of trellis may be used. A nylon trellis net can be used to minimize labor cost.

Irrigation

Honeydew melons require abundant supply of water than most crops. Furrow irrigation to field capacity should be done every 3-4 days. During fruit setting to enlargement, it is best to keep the soil moist-wet until two weeks before harvest. Erratic water supply results to deformed fruits and increase crackling.

Fertilization

Fertilization rate initially depends on available soil nutrients followed by plant condition. Too much N will result to very vigorous but susceptible plants. Regulate N especially during the wet season. Side-dress 1: 1 urea (46-0-0) and muriate of potash (0-0-60) at 10-20 g per hill every two weeks. Decrease N at flowering. During fruiting, apply more K but always with at least 10% N to enhance K adsorption. Potassium nitrate may be sprayed to increase sugar content especially during the wet season.

Pruning

Non-trellised. Cut the shoot at the 5th node and allow two uniform vines to form a Y. Prune the side shoots by hand up to the 10th node. Allow side shoots and fruiting in the 11th-15th node. The main vines may be cut at the 25th-27th node.

Trellised. Prune all side shoots below the 11th node. Allow side shoots on the 11th-16th node, and fruiting in 2-4 side shoots depending on the capacity of the variety. Cut the tip of the fruiting vine after 1-2 leaves. The main vine may also be cut at the 25th node.

Pollination and Fruit Selection

Melons for good fruit setting need ample pollination. Where applicable, bee colonies may be used but manual pollination is still best. Collect open, male flowers between 6:00-9:00 a.m. and rub the anthers on the stigma of the female flowers.

Select fruits at egg-size stage. For best results, allow only one fruit per vine.

Fruit Care and Maintenance

Non-trellised. Inspect selected fruits for damage. Support the fruits with halved bamboo about 2-3″ in diameter. Protect the fruits from sunscald by covering with rice straw or cut grasses.

Trellised. Tie the fruits with synthetic straw on the pedicel and secure on the trellis. Wrap the fruits with newspaper or wax paper to protect them from sunscald and insect damage.

Pest and Disease Control

The most serious problem of honeydew melon is downy mildew. Use resistant/tolerant variety. Use systemic fungicide such as Ridomil and contact fungicide such as Mancozeb. Apply the contact type regularly or every 4-5 days. The systemic type should be used only two times during the season.

Gummy stem blight may be a problem in some areas, in which case, spray copper-based fungicides. If infection is severe, paint a slurry of the fungicide on the affected area. Avoid splashing water on the stem during irrigation. Viruses could minimized by sanitation.

The common pests of honeydew melon thrips, mites, aphids, squash beetle and fruitfly. Mulching and spraying with insecticidal soap, hot pepper spray or appropriate pesticides can control thrips and mites. To control fruitfly, use fruitfly attractant as early as the vegetative stage. Wrap the fruits for better protection.

Harvesting

Harvest at 45-55 days from flowering or 75-80 days from transplanting. The index of fruit maturity depends on the variety. These may include change in color from green to yellow or a yellow tinge, slight cracking near the pedicel, flattening of the blossom end, and change in aroma.

Harvest fruits by cutting the fruiting vine to leave a T on the fruit. Handle the fruits with care. Do not drop nor pile too high. Use the plastic crates for hauling and store under the shade.

Post harvest

Classify the fruits according to size, quality and market standards. Wash the fruits in 1% sodium hypochlorite and air-dry. Apply fruit wax to shine. Wrap the fruits individually with styrofor apron and pack in cartons or boxes. If refrigerated transport is available, maintain temperature at 70oC.

Source: Honeydew Melon Production Guide Information Bulletin No.199/2000 PCARRD

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