SPECIALTY MELON YIELD AND QUALITY RESPONSE TO GRAFTING IN TRIALS CONDUCTED IN THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES
In 2013, the US melon industry grossed over $394 million from approximately 34 thousand hectares of cantaloupe and honeydew crops. North Carolina (NC) and South Carolina (SC) produced about 5% of the USA acreage and value, yet the melon crop in these two states are still valued at several million dollars. Most melon production involves various types of orange flesh melons commonly marketed as cantaloupes. In addition to cantaloupes, there are other types of specialty melons that provide new production opportunities. Several of these melon types have relatively soft flesh and limited shelf life, and are less suited for shipping or the larger grocery store retail market. Grafting was evaluated in three tests in 2011 through 2013 in NC and SC to determine if there were any advantages with respect to yield (earliness and total production) and quality (fruit size, soluble solids, and flesh firmness). The were 7 melon entries evaluated in 2011, and 16 melon entries evaluated in 2012 and 2013 studies, which were replicated 5 or 3 times, respectively. Generally, yields were reduced with the various melon cultivars and types tested when using grafted rather than self-grafted or non-grafted plants indicating that the graft itself was not a detriment to yields. Grafted plants of most melon cultivars tended to yield more fruit numbers in earlier harvests than non-grafted plants. Flesh firmness was generally found to be inferior for fruits obtained from grafted plants. Soluble solid levels differed between cultivars, with Sprite having some of the highest readings, but did not differ between grafted and non-grafted treatments. Fruit length and width were variably affected, with little response to grafting in the SC location, and reduced fruit lengths measured in the NC location.
Schultheis, J., Thompson, W. and Hassell, R. (2015). SPECIALTY MELON YIELD AND QUALITY RESPONSE TO GRAFTING IN TRIALS CONDUCTED IN THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES. Acta Hortic. 1086, 269-278
Cucumis melo var. reticulatus, inodorus, soluble solids, flesh firmness, fruit size, 'Carnivor' rootstock, squash interspecific hybrid