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Simon, J.E., M.R. Morales, and D.J. Charles. 1993. Specialty melons for the fresh market. p. 547-553. In: J. Janick and J.E. Simon (eds.), New crops. Wiley, New York.

Specialty Melons for the Fresh Market*

James E. Simon, Mario R. Morales, and Denys J. Charles


  1. METHODOLOGY
  2. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS
    1. Seedless and Yellow Watermelons
    2. Green-Fleshed Muskmelons
  3. REFERENCES
  4. Table 1
  5. Table 2
  6. Table 3
  7. Table 4

Indiana is an important producer of muskmelons and watermelons, ranking third in muskmelons in the United States after California and Arizona. In 1987, more than 1,133 ha (2,800 acres) of muskmelons and more than 2,145 ha (5,300 acres) of watermelons were harvested in Indiana mainly in the southwest region with a combined farm value of more than $10 million (Census of Agriculture 1987; Sullivan 1989). Recent marketing studies indicate that significant growth in melon production and specialty cucurbits could occur in the Midwest due to increased market demand (Sullivan 1989). Our objective was to examine the adaptability of specialty melons to the Midwest. The study presented here is focused on seedless and yellow watermelons and green-fleshed muskmelons with the long range goal to utilize the existing agricultural and industrial infrastructure of southwestern Indiana to introduce and market new specialty melons.

Seedless watermelons were originally developed in 1939 by Kihara and Nishiyama (1947). These are triploids produced by crossing colchicine-induced tetraploids with diploids (Andrus et al. 1971). Intensive breeding and development by O.J. Eigsti, Goshen, Indiana, led to the Tri-X-313 series of seedless watermelons that became the domestic industry standard and later, the germplasm utilized by SunWorld Seedless, national marketers of seedless watermelons. In the past, problems of seedless melons included poor germination and emergence, high seed costs, poor yields, and irregular quality. Several of these problems have been overcome and the profusion of new seedless cultivars attests to the recent attention that this crop has received from private seed companies. Seedless watermelons may not only partially substitute for the purchase and consumption of regular seeded watermelons, but also have the potential to penetrate new consumer markets to which seeded watermelons were previously limited including nursing homes, hospitals, and other institutions.

Yellow-fleshed watermelons have received only minor market interest in the past partially due to the lack of cultivars with high quality fruit as well as consumer resistance to the yellow color. Many cultivars have had problems with cracking or hollow-heart, mealy texture, or nonuniform fruit. Greater consumer acceptance of nonred watermelons is evident by the recent inclusion of yellow-fleshed watermelons in the produce section of general large chain supermarkets.

Green-fleshed muskmelons for export to Europe were originally developed by plant breeders in Israel. These melons differ from the traditional orange-fleshed, netted 'Western' and 'Eastern' melons in both exterior and interior color. They have a nonridged yellow-gold to green exterior, a green-flesh interior with a creamy texture and very sweet flavor. The texture and flavor is different from the green-fleshed `Honeydew' melon, which has a pale yellow/white exterior and is difficult to commercially grow in the Midwest and Eastern states.

METHODOLOGY

Since 1987, specialty melons trials have been conducted annually in southwestern Indiana at the Southwest Purdue Agricultural Center, Vincennes, to identify domestic and foreign cultivars that are adapted to Midwestern conditions and which could have strong consumer interest (Simon 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987; Simon et al. 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991). Results presented here are mainly confined to the 1991 field trials. Average yields of four seedless watermelon and four green-fleshed muskmelon cultivars evaluated in the 1989, 1990, and 1991 field trials is also presented. Seeds of seedless watermelon, yellow-fleshed watermelon, and green-fleshed muskmelon were sown in plastic trays inside a greenhouse on Apr. 29, May 6, and May 2 of 1991, respectively, and transplanted into the field on May 22. Seedless, yellow-fleshed, and green-fleshed melon cultivars were evaluated in 3 separate trials, using a completely randomized block design with three replications in each study. Watermelon plots consisted of single rows, 142 cm in length, with 7 plants per row (plants 20 cm apart within the row), and rows 25 cm apart. 'Crimson Sweet' was used as the pollinator in the seedless watermelon trial and planted in every sixth row plus the guard rows. Muskmelon plots consisted of single rows, 142 cm in length, with 14 plants per row (plants 10 cm apart within the row), and rows 25 cm apart. All rows were covered with black plastic mulch and trickle irrigated. Production practices for fertilization, weed, insect, and pest control have been described previously (Latin et al. 1991). The Purdue VARTEST computer program for variety testing was used for statistical analysis.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS

Seedless and Yellow Watermelons

High yielding and high quality seedless and yellow watermelons (with excellent flavor, appearance with high total soluble solids) can be produced in the Midwest (Table 1, 2, 4), with yield and quality influenced greatly by the selected cultivar. Several new seedless cultivars including 'King of Hearts', 'Queen of Hearts' (Petoseed Co., Inc.), 'Crimson Trio' and 'Scarlet Trio' (Rogers NK Seed Co.), and 'Tiffany' (Asgrow Seed Co.) compare favorably in yield and quality to the standard 'Tri-X-313', 'Sunrise', and 'Triplesweet' cultivars of SunWorld Seedless. With the inclusion of pollinating cultivars, seedless watermelons can be grown in a manner similar to regular watermelons. The continued proliferation in seedless watermelons will lead to an even greater number of red- and yellow-fleshed cultivars which will vary in size and shape from the rounded striped 'Crimson Sweet' type to the striped blocky 'Jubilee type', and to the dark nonstriped small rounded 'Sugar Baby' fruit type. Promising melons need to be screened for disease resistance prior to introduction. The seedless watermelon 'Quality' (Known-You-Seed) appeared quite promising with regard to yield and quality in our initial trials, but later was shown to be very susceptible to fusarium and thus, eliminated from our studies.

The yellow watermelon cultivars 'Sunshine' and 'Yellow Cutie' did not exhibit cracking and were relatively uniform in external appearance. Most yellow cultivars however, had a mealy texture and a light yellow flesh color. While yellow-fleshed watermelons can be now produced commercially, further improvement in fruit quality is needed. Fruits need to exhibit greater uniformity and a deeper, brighter, and more uniform yellow color.

Green-Fleshed Muskmelons

Green-fleshed muskmelons had an attractive golden to yellow exterior at maturity and continue to show great promise as a specialty melon (Table 3 and 4). These melons are very high yielding and many evaluated appear as tolerant as the orange-fleshed muskmelons to diseases such as fusarium wilt, endemic in Midwest production areas. These fruit have a creamy texture and very sweet flavor, with total soluble solids content as high as 15.4 % (Table 3). The aromatic volatiles, which are in part responsible for the fruits' aroma, appear similar for both orange and these green-flesh melons suggesting that differences in taste and flavor may be more related to individual sugars than differences in volatile compounds.

'Makdimmon' (Hazera Ltd., marketed in the United States as 'Mediterranean Delight' by Aristogenes), 'Rocky Sweet', (Hollar Seeds), and 'Galia' produced the highest quality fruit and are recommended for production in our area. However, while production techniques are similar to traditional muskmelons, harvesting and postharvest handling procedures differ. Greater care is needed in handling and packing, as the rinds of the green-fleshed fruit are thin and susceptible to bruising. The fruit of most green-flesh cultivars ripen over a very concentrated time period which requires greater care in the scheduling of field planting. Shelf life of these fruit also appear to be shorter. These cultivars may also differ in their tolerance to wet soil conditions and appear to respond best under drier growing conditions with irrigation. Further inprovements in their resistance to fusaruim wilt is required.

Specialty melons such as seedless and yellow watermelons, and green-fleshed muskmelons are very well adapted to Indiana growing conditions. High yields were obtained from seedless and green-fleshed melons over a three year period from 1989 to 1991 (Table 4). The high quality fruit of selected cultivars would more than meet market expectations and make these specialty melons an attractive new fresh product that can be handled and marketed within the existing agricultural and industrial infrastructure of southwestern Indiana.

REFERENCES


*Journal Paper No. 13,226, Purdue Univ. Agr. Expt. Sta., West Lafayette, IN 47907-1165. This research was supported in parts by grants from the Indiana Business Modernization and Technology Corporation, Indianapolis, the Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service, and the seed companies of Abbott & Cobb), American SunWorld Seedless, Asgrow Seed Co., Baker Brothers Seeds, Harris Moran Seed Co., Hazera Seed Co., Hollar Seeds, Mikado Seeds, PetoSeed Co., Rogers Northrup King, Sakata Seeds. We thank Harry Paris and Zvi Karchi, ARO/Israel for their green-fleshed melon germplasm, Meb Lang and Tom Mouzin, Purdue, who assisted us in the field work and to Daniella Simon and Kevin Vonderwell, who participated in the quality evaluations of each fruit.
Table 1. Comparison of yield and quality of seedless watermelon in southwestern Indiana, 1991.

% of fruit harvested
Cultivar Seed sourcez Fresh wt (t/ha) Total fruit (No./ha) Avg. fruit weight (kg) 7/29 8/19 Soluble solids (%) Flavor rating (1-5)y Cracking rating (0-5)x Uniformity rating (1-5)w
King of Hearts PS 34.9 4549 7.7 40 60 11.2 3 0 3
Sunrise AM 33.2 4164 8.0 41 59 9.8 3 0 4
Tripesweet AM 31.6 4102 7.8 47 53 10.8 4 0 4
5032 AC 31.4 3845 8.2 35 65 11.0 3 0 3
NVH 4256 RG/NK 31.1 3588 8.6 44 56 10.2 4 0 4
Red Baron MK 29.7 4932 6.0 27 73 11.0 3 0 4
Queen of Hearts PS 27.4 3588 7.6 42 58 10.8 3 0 4
Scarlet Trio RG/NK 27.1 3205 8.5 35 65 11.4 4 0 4
M-7 MK 26.9 4356 6.2 40 60 10.6 3 0 4
Nova SK 26.5 3971 6.6 37 63 10.8 3 0 3
SWM 8702 SK 24.2 3138 8.0 40 60 10.0 3 1 4
Crimson Trio RG/NK 23.0 2627 8.8 50 50 11.2 3 0 4
Tiffany AS 22.5 2819 8.0 43 57 11.4 4 2 3
Tri-x-313 AM 21.7 2498 8.7 48 52 10.6 3 1 3
Laurel GB 16.9 2115 8.0 38 62 11.8 2 3 3
SWM 8802 SK 16.4 2370 7.0 51 49 9.0 2 0 3
Grand mean 26.5 3492 7.7 41 59
BLSDv (k = 100) NSD 2478 0.6 NSD NSD
CV (%) 32.6 31 5.5 32 22
zAbbott and Cobb Inc. (AC), American Sunmelon (AM), Asgrow Seed Co. (AS), Green Barn Seed Co. (GB), Mikado Seed Growers Co. (MK), Petoseed Co. (PS), Rogers Northrup King (RG/NK), Sakata Seed America Inc. (SK).
yFlavor: 1 = very poor and unacceptable, 3 = acceptable, 5 = excellent.
xCracking: 0 = no cracking, 5 = severe cracking at stem end.
wFruit uniformity: 1 = fruit very variable, 5 = fruit uniform in appearance.
vBLSD = Waller-Duncan Bayesian k-ratio t test.


Table 2. Comparison of yield and quality of yellow-fleshed watermelon in southwestern Indiana, 1991.

% of fruit harvested
Cultivar Seed sourcez Fresh wt (MT/ha) Total fruit (No./ha) Avg. fruit wt (kg) 7/29 8/19 Soluble solids (%) Flavor rating (1-5)y Cracking rating (0-5)x Uniformity rating (1-5)w
NVH 4299 NK 61.1 4678 13.1 3 97 10.0 3 2 3
Sunshine JS 29.4 5446 5.5 2 98 11.0 4 0 4
Yellow Doll LI 27.5 8330 3.3 2 98 11.2 3 1 4
Yellow Baby ST 27.3 7047 3.9 2 98 11.4 4 1 4
Yellow Baby HM 22.8 5318 4.3 2 98 10.4 4 1 3
Yellow Cutie SK 14.6 6279 2.3 2 98 10.8 3 0 4
Grand mean 30.4 6183 5.4 2 98
BLSDv (k = 100) 11.2 1769 1.1 NSD NSD
CV (%) 21.2 15 12.8 47 1
zHarris Moran Seed Co. (HM), Johnny's Selected Seeds (JS), Liberty Seed Co. (LI), Rogers Northrup King (RG/NK), Sakata Seed America Inc. (SK), Stokes Seeds Inc. (ST).
yFlavor: 1 = very poor and unacceptable, 3 = acceptable, 5 = excellent.
xCracking: 0 = no cracking, 5 = severe cracking at stem end.
wFruit uniformity: 1 = fruit very variable, 5 = fruit uniform in appearance.
vBLSD = Waller-Duncan Bayesian k-ratio t test.


Table 3. Comparison of yield and quality of green-fleshed muskmelon in southwestern Indiana, 1991.

% of fruit harvested
Cultivar Seed sourcez Days to harvest Fresh wt (MT/ha) Total fruit (No./ha) Avg. fruit weight (kg) 7/08-7/14 7/15-7/24 7/25-8/05 Soluble solids (%) Flavor rating (1-5)y
Makdimmon HZ 67 41.1 18900 2.2 54 9 38 11.4 5
Delicate IS 90 38.0 11317 3.4 33 50 17 15.4 3
Galia IS 90 36.5 14307 2.6 49 41 10 12.2 3
Emerald Jewel SK 76 35.4 15802 2.3 1 33 66 12.5 4
Galia 5 IS 90 34.4 14628 2.4 50 41 9 6.4 1
Passport HL 67 34.0 16338 2.1 65 18 17 9.9 3
Caribe RG/NK 75 33.9 15698 2.2 0 75 25 6.0 1
Amur SK 74 31.2 13240 2.4 2 60 37 NDx ND
PSX 24487 PS 70 31.0 16870 1.8 7 69 24 14.0 4
Galia 4 IS 90 30.9 15592 2.0 80 18 2 9.2 2
Concorde AS 71 28.2 18898 1.5 5 77 18 13.4 3
Qalya IS 68 27.1 13027 2.1 42 52 5 10.0 4
Rocky Sweet HL 67 26.7 12175 2.2 45 39 15 13.8 5
Gallicum PS 67 25.2 11423 2.2 36 56 8 13.2 4
Ogen BB 75 23.2 12706 1.8 0 51 49 12.9 4
Grand mean 76 31.8 14728 2.2 31 46 23
BLSDw (k = 100) 3 11.1 5528 0.2 16 19 15
CV (%) 3 17.3 18 6.8 32 26 41
zAsgrow Seed Co. (AS), Bakker Brothers Inc. (BB), Hollar & Co. (HL), Hazera Seed Ltd. (HZ), Dept. of Vegetable Crops, Haifa, Israel (IS), Petoseed Co. (PS), Rogers Northrup King, (RG/NK), Sakata Seed America Inc. (SK).
yFlavor: 1 = very poor and unacceptable, 3 = acceptable, 5 = excellent.
xND = not determined.
wBLSD = Waller-Duncan Bayesian k-ratio t test.


Table 4. Yield comparisons of seedless watermelons and green-fleshed muskmelons grown in southwestern Indiana for three years (from 1989 to 1991).

Fresh fruit yield
MT/haz No./ha
Cultivar 1989 1990 1991 Mean 1989 1990 1991 Mean
Seedless watermelons
King of Hearts 36.0 47.6 34.9 39.5 4357 5830 4549 4912
Sunrise 35.9 45.9 33.2 38.3 4229 5958 4165 4784
Tri-X-313 32.7 52.3 21.7 35.6 3716 6279 2499 4165
Queen of Hearts 37.1 40.8 27.4 35.1 4805 5382 3588 4592
Mean 37.1 4613
LSD (5%) NSD NSD
CV % 14.8 16.5
Green-fleshed muskmelons
Makdimmon 40.7 50.4 41.1 44.1a 15483 20289 18900 18224
PSX-24487 34.5 41.0 30.9 35.5ab 23385 18473 16872 19577
Galia 21.3 39.3 36.5 32.4b 10465 20502 14309 15092
Rocky Sweet 19.5 46.1 26.7 30.8b 8970 17406 12173 12850
Mean 35.7 16436
LSD (5%) 11.4 NSD
CV % 14.5 19.2
zMT/ha spanned by the same letter are not significantly different NSD.


Last update April 28, 1997 aw