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2004 Specialty Melon Project

 

 
     

2004 Growing Methods

   
     
During the growing season of 2004 we grew 15 varieties of melons at the Horticulture Research Center. Unfortunately we were plagued by an intense golf-ball sized hail storm on August 10, 2004. The marketable harvest of most melons was drastically reduced. However, we were able to record some data on the remaining melons and that information is presented here. Taste tests were also conducted with data reported below.   Melon with Hail Damage

The plants were started in the greenhouse on April 16th in peat pots, fertilized once a week with fish emulsion fertilizer, and transplanted to the field on May 24th with 14" in-row spacing and 5' between rows (note: commercial melon production is usually 12" in-row spacing). Approximately 40 plants of each variety (except for the variety Amy, which had only 5 demonstration plants) were transplanted into a black plastic mulch with a single line of drip tape. We began harvesting melons in early August and continued through the end of September. Taste tests were conducted at the Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Fall Picnic and our Fall Specialty Crops Field Day.

In addition to the hail, flea beetles also damaged our melon plants this year, especially soon after transplanting. We sprayed spinosad on the plants two times in the end of June.

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2004 Yield Data

The following table displays the average melon weight for the different melon varieties. The percentage of melons lost after hail damage is also listed - this is based on counts of melons at the time of the hail storm versus what was actually harvested and marketable.

Variety
Type
Avg Melon Wt . (lbs.)
% post-hail loss
Rayaan
Anana
2.8
49%
Sun Jewel
Asian
1.0
47%
Serenade
Butterscotch
1.7
54%
Sweetie #6
Butterscotch
1.0
54%
Earligold
Canteloupe
3.1
73%
Earliqueen
Canteloupe
2.1
35%
Edonis
French Charentais
1.9
43%
Savor
French Charentais
1.3
93%
Arava
Galia/Tropical
2.8
30%
Passport
Galia/Tropical
3.6
13%
Honey Orange
Honeydew
2.3
69%
Honey Pearl
Honeydew
3.2
67%
Amy
Spanish/Canary
2.6
67%
Golden Beauty
Spanish/Canary
3.9
61%
Sugar Nut
Spanish/Canary
3.0
51%

The following graph demonstrates the difference in yield between two melon varieties grown both in 2003 and 2004. Significantly cooler temperatures in 2004 resulted in a later harvest and possibly contributed to reduced yield in addition to the hail damage (see our Study Area web page for weather information).

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2004 Melon Photos and Production Notes

Variety - Type
Photo - outside
Photo - inside
Notes
Rayaan - Anana
Rayyan melon
Rayyan melon sliced
Football shaped fruits, if rind starts to yellow then it is getting over-ripe.
Sun Jewel - Asian
Sun Jewel Melon
Sun Jewel Melon sliced
Extremely productive and early harvest, not a big winner in taste tests, small sized melon.
Serenade - Butterscotch
Serenade Melon
Serenade Melon sliced
Charentais-like, small, not very productive.
Sweetie # 6 - Butterscotch
Sweetie No. 6 Melon
No Photo Available
Small, charentais-like, problems with recognizing ripe melons.
Earligold - Canteloupe
Earligold Melon
Earligold Melon sliced
Good performing western style canteloupe, not deeply sutured, fine netting.
Earliqueen - Canteloupe
Earliqueen Melon
Earliqueen Melon sliced
Medium-sized melon, good flavor.
Edonis - French Charentais
Edonis Melon
Edonis Melon sliced
Rich color, medium to small melon.
Savor - French Charentais
Savor Melon sliced

Small, classic Charentais melon.
Arava - Galia/Tropical
Arava Melon
No Photo Available
Large fruits, very round, hit or miss flavor.
Passport - Galia/Tropical
Passport Melon
Passport Melon sliced
Very aromatic, nice texture, , early season melons seem to be the most flavorful
Honey Orange - Honeydew
Honey Orange Melon
Honey Orange Melon sliced
Somewhat difficult to tell when melon is ripe in the field, big winner in taste tests.
Honey Pearl - Honeydew

 

No Photo Available (looks very similar to Honey Orange on the outside)

 

Honey Pearl Melon sliced
Also somewhat difficult to tell when melon is ripe in the field.
Amy - Spanish/Canary
Amy Melon
No Photo Available
Reliable melon, smooth yellow skin, good taste.
Golden Beauty - Spanish/Canary
No Photo Available
Golden Beauty Melon sliced
Large football shaped fruits.
Sugar Nut - Spanish/Canary
Sugar Nut Melon
Sugar Nut Melon sliced
Very productive, good medium sized fruits, another winner in taste tests.

 

Conclusions/Recommendations:

Acquaintance with specific variety traits is important including the recognition of appropriate harvest stage. There are many varieties available to experiment with and some of the specialty melons exhibit quite variable flavor within a cultivar.

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2004 Taste Tests

Approximately 50 volunteers were lured into participating in the 2004 melon variety taste tests at the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Fall Picnic. Volunteers took their jobs very seriously as can be seen below.

Volunteer taste testers at the Horticulture and L.A. Fall Picnic

Our volunteer tasters had varying opinions of course on the melon varieties we grew; however, there were some obvious winners and losers. Honey Orange and Sugar Nut were favorites among most taste testers. Rayaan was also often mentioned as a good tasting melon. Sun Jewel consistently rated the lowest in taste tests however a few individuals liked it. See below for detailed information on each variety.

Variety
Most Favorite (% of vote) *
Least Favorite (% of vote) *
Comments
Amy
0%
8%
bland
Arava
0%
0%
hit or miss on flavor, strange, bland, tastes like mushrooms
Earligold
2%
4%
good
Earliqueen
6%
13%
good, tasteless, bland, mealy
Edonis
2%
13%
hit or miss on flavor, dry texture, dirty flavor, bitter, nice bouquet
Golden Beauty
0%
0%
same flavor as sugar nut but more mealy - not much taste
Honey Orange
42%
0%
very sweet, way better than store, pretty, nice flavor, lite
Honey Pearl
2%
4%
nice texture but no flavor, soft, sweet, flat
Passport
6%
13%
bland, like water, flavorless, not too melony but good, mellow
Rayyan
12%
8%
nice balance of sweet and salty, sweetest, excellent, traditional flavor
Sugar Nut
27%
4%
tastes like honeydew, sweet, good texture, nutty, juicy, soft, not too much fiber
Sun Jewel
2%
25%
not much taste, not a favorite, maybe for juice, weak, zesty, citrusy, tarter, no flavor
Sweetie No. 6
0%
8%
hit or miss on flavor, sweeter than cantalope, better flavor, awesome, good, not interesting

*0% indicates that there were no "most favorite" or "least favorite" votes for that variety.

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Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture