G×E×M strategies for melons in water limited environments
Open field irrigated agriculture in arid to semi-arid regions of the world is seriously affected by frequent and severe droughts, limited water resources, and increased regulations restricting ground water use. Integrated strategies for melon (Cucumis melo L.) production can be applied to increase water savings without reducing marketable yields and product quality. These include selecting high-efficiency irrigation systems, allowing plants to experience water stress to a degree that does not impact profit levels, choosing cultivars with drought tolerance, and growing them in adaptable environments. A series of experiments were conducted to investigate the impact of multiple environments with different soil types and climatic conditions, and deficit irrigation strategies (50% crop evapotranspiration, ETc) on melon genotypes. Investigations on deficit irrigation examined leaf gas exchange, root and shoot growth, yield stability, quality and water productivity responses of three melon cultivars, 'Mission' (cantaloupe; reticulatus type), 'Da Vinci' (Tuscan; reticulatus type) and 'Super Nectar' (honeydew; inodorus type). The late maturing cultivar 'Super Nectar' was more sensitive to drought stress possibly due to a decrease in leaf area and photosynthetic rates; while early maturing 'Mission' and 'Da Vinci' escaped severe water deficit, and sustained leaf water status through improved root growth and leaf gas exchange adjustments. Genotype × environment interaction studies for yield stability and component traits were conducted in three distinctive Texas locations. Mission was the most stable and average performing cultivar for marketable yield across all environments. These studies suggest that 'Mission' (cantaloupe; reticulatus type) is widely adapted to varying environment and crop management strategies.
Leskovar, D.I., Sharma, S.P., Crosby, K.M. and Volder, A. (2017). G×E×M strategies for melons in water limited environments. Acta Hortic. 1151, 229-236
Cucumis melo, crop evapotranspiration, deficit irrigation, leaf gas exchange, minirhizotron, root depth, water use efficiency