Growing an exceptional melon crop does not happen by accident. It requires a high level of management, and excellent production tools. ISP offers the melon producer a wide array of nutritional products to manage a variety of weather challenges, adapt to physiological signals from his plants, and cover a wide range of other plant needs.
The ISP Melon Program does require management from the grower, and is not the least labor intensive program available. But it does produce results, and after all, isn’t the reason you plant melons to harvest a lot of melons?
The following products are common inputs into the ISP Melon Program:
- Ensure that your soil has high levels of fertility.
- Transplant solution. (example: 100 gal. of solution, add 6 to 10 lbs. 10-45-10 or 15-30-15, 16 oz. Seed Boost, and 1 to 2 quarts PhytoGro Xtra). Irrigate enough to settle the soil around roots.
- Allow transplants to dry somewhat to encourage root growth, then water as necessary (2-3 times per week).
- After transplants are exhibiting new growth; add 2 to 5 lbs. 10-45-10 or 15-30-15, and 4 oz. HV-1 per irrigation. Every third irrigation, replace plant food with 32 oz. MetaCal
- Continually observe and evaluate plant growth. Pay attention to oldest leaves and the growing tips, which should always be off the ground pointing skyward.
- Once first flower buds appear, foliar 2 to3 lbs. 10-20-20, 6 oz. epsom salt, and 2 to 4 oz. Seed Boost for each 18” of vine cover. Repeat every 7-10 days.
- Continue to observe plants, monitoring node length on the vines, as well as the male to female flower ratio.
- Once fruits are approximately 1” in length, adjust nutrient combination to 50% 10-20-20 and 50% 28-16-7, with total application being 15-20 lbs. per week, coupled with 64 ounces of MetaCal. This should be divided into equal amounts for each irrigation, and preferably at least one foliar application as well. 4-18-38 can also be a valuable nutrient choice for exceptional fruit quality.
- When applying nutrient either through the drip lines or foliar applications, add either HV-1 (2 to 4 ounces/week) or Seed Boost (4 to 6 ounces/week) to your nutrient mixes. The plant growth regulators in these products provide important benefits.
- Again, continue to observe your crop. As mentioned, the vine tips should always point upward, especially in the morning. The plants can appear different if observed during the cool of the morning as compared to the heat of the afternoon. Depending upon temperature, vines may slightly wilt in the heat, but should always refresh once temperatures drop. Watch for graying of vegetative color, or older leaves turning brownish. This all can be an early indication of inadequate nutrient, and applied amounts of plant food should be increased.
Options: It is not unusual with cantaloupes and some of the other vine crops to observe a number of small fruits once picking has begun. Growers interested in harvesting these fruits have used a “plant repair” foliar applications following initial pickings to heal the wounds made from the picking itself (stepping on vines, breaking leaves, etc.). This application consists of 64 ounces of MetaCal and 10 pounds of high mineral plant food (10-45-10, 15-30-15, 4-18-38). This treatment has been shown to “scab” the open wounds, reducing susceptibility to disease infections. Then continue to fertilize for fruit as described in the recommendations.