Melon - Key Growing Information
CULTURE: A light, well-drained soil with a pH of 7.0 and a southern exposure is ideal. Good soil moisture is important in early stages of growth and during pollination when fruits are setting. After this point do not water the last week before fruits are ripe, as overwatering can cause bland fruit.
TRANSPLANTING: Sow indoors in 50-cell plug trays or 2-3" biodegradable pots in late April or one month (no sooner!) before transplanting outdoors. Plant 3 seeds/cell or pot, about 1/4" deep. Keep temperature 80-90°F (27-32°C) until germination. Handle young plants carefully and never let the soil dry out. Grow seedlings at 75°F (24°C). Reduce water and temperature for a week to harden-off seedlings. When the weather is frost-free, warm, and settled, transplant 2-3' apart in rows 6' apart or thin to 1 plant/cell or pot with scissors and transplant 18" apart. Even hardened-off melon seedlings are tender. Do not disturb roots when transplanting, and water thoroughly.
DIRECT SEEDING: Sow 1-2 weeks after last frost when soil is warm, above 70°F (21°C), 3 seeds every 18", 1/2" deep, thinning to 1 plant/cell or pot.
ROW COVERS: Since melons like consistently warm conditions, plastic mulch and row covers will make for earlier crops and better yields, especially in the North. Remove covers when plants have female flowers (identified by the tiny fruit at base of blossom).
DISEASES: Choose varieties resistant to diseases in your area. Sudden wilt (which is caused by cold weather stress in late summer when plants have a heavy set of ripening melons), can cause plants to wilt almost overnight. Keep plants healthy with good fertility and irrigation to prevent sudden wilt.
INSECT PESTS: Protect against cucumber beetles with floating row covers applied at transplanting, or with insecticides such as pyrethrin or azadirachtin.
HARVEST: Ripeness indicators vary by melon type. Most cantaloupes are ready when the gray-green color begins to change to buff-yellow and are harvested at "full slip" or when a light tug separates the fruit from the vine. Some types, like Canary and Crenshaw, require a bit more pressure to separate the fruit and are harvested at "forced slip." Others, like Honeydew, Charentais, and Piel de Sapo, are overripe by the time the stem can be tugged from the fruit; these must be cut from the vine. See product copy for when to harvest, as there are varietal differences.
STORAGE: All melons should be stored at 85-95% relative humidity. Store ripe netted melons at 36-41°F (2-5°C); store other melons at 45-50°F (7-10°C) for 7-14 days.
DAYS TO MATURITY: From transplanting; add about 10 days if direct-seeded.
AVG. DIRECT SEEDING RATE: 30 seeds/10', 100 seeds/50', 1M/500', 15M/acre at 3 seeds every 18" in rows 6' apart.
SEED SPECS: SEEDS/LB.: Avg. 18,800.
PACKET: 30 seeds, unless otherwise indicated.