Muskmelon (Kharbooj) is an important crop grown in India. Muskmelons (Cucumis melo L. Reticulatus Group) possess a fruit rind which is netted. The muskmelon is a member of the Cucurbitaceae (cucumber) family, which also includes cucumbers, watermelons, and honeydew, Persian, casaba, and Crenshaw melons.
Scientific name-Cucumis melo.
Climate and soil requirement for Muskmelon
Muskmelon plants flourish well under warm climate and cannot tolerate frost. The optimum temperature for germination of the seed is 27-30oC. With the increase in temperature, the plants complete their vegetative growth earlier. Stormy weather particularly dust storm during flowering reduces fruit setting. Dry weather with clear sunshine during ripening ensures a high sugar content, better flavour and a high percentage of marketable fruits. High humidity increases the incidence of diseases, particularly those affecting foliage. Cool nights and warm days are ideal for accumulation of sugars in the fruits.
A well drained loamy soil is preferred. Lighter soils which warm up quickly in spring are usually utilized for early yields, and in heavier soils, the vine growth will be more and fruit maturity will be delayed. Sandy river beds with alluvial substrata and subterranean moisture of river streams support its growth. In fact, the long tap root system is adapted to the growth of this crop in river beds. The soil should not crack in summer and water should not stagnate. It is necessary that soil should be fertile well provided with organic matter. Muskmelon is sensitive to acidic soils. The crop can not be grown successfully below pH of 5.5. It prefers a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Alkaline soils with high salt concentration are also not suitable.
Muskmelon is a warm season crop, but in the important muskmelon growing areas, it is sown during winter under proper protection against cold. It is also sown in February and March.
Improved Muskmelon Varieties/Hybrids
1.Punjab Hybrid (1981)
Its vines are vigorous and dark green. The fruit setting takes place close to the base of the vine, and it is early in maturity. The fruit is round, light yellow, sutured and netted. Flesh is thick, orange-colored, juicy and having excellent flavour with 12 percent TSS. The fruits develop ‘full slip’ stage. Average
fruit weight is 800g. It is moderately resistant to powdery mildew and resistant to fruit fly. The yield is about 65 q/acre.
1.Punjab Sunehri (1974)
This variety has medium vine growth. The fruit weighs about 700-800g and is globular round with its rind intensely netted and light brown. It has thick orange flesh and is medium in juiciness. It is very sweet (TSS 11 per cent). The inside of the rind is separating it from the orange flesh, is green. The fruits develop ‘full slip’ stage. The crop matures about 12 days earlier than Hara Madhu. This variety has good keeping quality. It is highly resistant to the attack of a fruitfly. It yields about 65 q/acre.
2.Hara Madhu (1967)
This variety is somewhat late in maturity. The fruit is large (average weight one kg.), round and slightly tapering towards the stalk end. It is very sweet (TSS 13 per cent). Its skin is light yellow with green sutures. Its flesh is thick, green and juicy. The seed cavity is small. The average yield is about 50 q/ acre. It is comparatively resistant to powdery mildew.
Agronomic Practices for Cucumber cultivation
The middle of February is the best sowing time. However, if the crop is raised by providing a suitable mulch or any other type of cover during winter, the premium of an early market can be captured. Early planting under cover would save the crop from the attack of red pumpkin beetle also.
With careful planting on hills by dibbling, 400g of seed is sufficient for one acre.
Method of Sowing
Prepare beds 4m wide for Hara Madhu and 3m for others. Sow two seeds per hill on both sides of beds at a distance of 60 cm between hills. Early crop raised from seedlings grown in polythene bags matures 15-20 days earlier than directly seeded crop. The polythene bags of 15 cm x 10 cm size and 100-gauge thickness punched at the base should be filled with a mixture of soil and well-rotten farmyard manure in equal proportions or with soil, well-rotten farm yard manure and silt in equal proportions when soil is sandy. Five to six kg. Bags are required to raise seedlings for an acre.
The seed should be sown in the bags in the last week of January or in the first week of February. Seedlings should be protected from cold winds. The bags should be placed near the wall facing the sun. The seeds should not be sown deeper than 1.5 cm. After sowing, water should be applied daily in the afternoon, preferably with a sprinkling can. Transplanting should be done by the end of February or by the first week of March when the seedlings are 25-30 days old and have two true leaves.
Two days before transplanting, withhold watering the bags. At transplanting, a cut is given on the side of the bag with a sharp knife, and the bag is removed. The earth ball should not be allowed to break and placed in the hill very carefully. Irrigation is applied immediately after transplanting. With this method, the fruits mature by 2nd or 3rd week of May.
Muskmelon fertilizers requirements
Apply 10 to 15 tonnes of farmyard manure, 50 kg of N (110 kg of Urea), 25 kg of P205(155 kg of Single Superphosphate) and 25 kg. of K20, (40 kg of Muriate of Potash) per acre to the directly seeded crop. The farmyard manure should be added 10-15 days before sowing. Whole P2O5 and K2O along with one-third of N should be applied in two parallel bands 45 cm apart, and the channel should be prepared in between the fertilizer bands, before the sowing of seeds. The remaining dose of nitrogen should be applied to the vines near the base (but not touching it) and should be mixed with the soil during the early part of the growing season to ensure the maximum early growth, early fruit set, and early maturity.
Under the transplanting technique, the row to row and the plant-to-plant distances are the same as in the above method. Locate the planting spots for the plants and dig 15-20 cm deep pits for receiving the plants. Fill each pit with a mixture of 1 kg of farmyard manure, 15g CAN or 7-8 g of Urea, 40g of Single Superphosphate or 158g DAP and 10g of Muriate of Potash before planting. About a month after; apply another dose of 15g CAN or 7-8g of Urea to each plant. In this way 5-7 tonnes of farmyard manure, 20 to 30 kg N(45 to 65 kg. Urea), 20-25 kg. P205 (125 to 155 kg. Single Superphosphate or 55 kg DAP) and 20-25 kg. K20 (35-40 kg. Muriate of Potash) would be required per acre.
Irrigation of Muskmelon
During summer, irrigate the crop every week. At the time of fruit maturity, water should be given when it is necessary. The over-flooding of the field should be avoided. In no case, water should be allowed to come in contact with fruits. Depending on soil type and weather conditions, irrigate the fields 9-11 times.
Harvesting of Muskmelon
The fruits of Hara Madhu should be harvested when it turns yellow. Other varieties should be picked at a mature green stage for distant marketing and at ‘half slip’ stage for the local market. To avoid fruit-rot during development and maturity, turn the fruits, particularly after rain or flooding when the soil is wet. Place dry grass below the fruits or place the fruits on the vines themselves.
Land should be free from volunteer plants of the same crop or other crossable species. A seed crop field must be isolated all around to a minimum distance of 1000 m and 500 m for foundation and certified seed, respectively. A muskmelon seed field should be isolated from snap melon (Phut), long melon (Tar), wanga and wild melon (Chibber). Systematic and timely field inspections at different stages of plant growth are essential to ensure the production of genetically pure seed.
A minimum of 3 field inspections viz., before flowering, during flowering and fruiting, and finally at fruit maturity are required. In the case of muskmelon, edible fruit should be examined for internal fruit characters and sweetness. Muskmelon fruit is ready for seed harvest at its peak of edibility. In most of the cultivars, a crack develops at the point of attachment of the fruit with the stem. The fruit gets easily detached from the vine.
The muskmelon fruits are cut into half, and the seed is scooped out of the fruit and placed in a non-corrosive metallic trough, earthen pot, wooden barrel or plastic bag. The muskmelon seed is left for fermentation for a day or two. After the fermentation is completed, the seed mixture is washed with water to float off the placental debris or pass it through the wire-mesh to get clean seed. Fermented seed is superior in germination to mechanically cleaned seed, or the seed separated immediately after fruit harvest. The seed should be dried properly before packing.
“Package of Practices for Cultivation of Vegetables PACKAGE …” Punjab Agriculture University. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 May. 2017 <http://web.pau.edu/content/pf/pp_veg.pdf>.
Package of Practices for Cultivation of Vegetables PACKAGE … (n.d.). Retrieved from http://web.pau.edu/content/pf/pp_veg.pdf
- Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana.