Cantaloupe

Description

Cantaloupe, Cucumis melo, is a vining plant in the family Cucurbitaceae, grown for its large, sweet fruit of the same name. Cantaloupe vines are trailing and are slightly hairy with simple oval leaves arranged alternately on the stem. The plant produces small yellow flowers which are 1.2–3.0 cm (0.5–1.2 in) in diameter and large oval to round fruit with green to orange flesh. Melon is an annual plant and a vine can grow up to 3 m (9.8 ft) in length. Cantaloupe may be referred to as muskmelon or melon and likely originate from East and Northeast Africa.


Uses

Melon is primarily consumed as a fresh fruit. The pulp may be turned into a fresh beverage and the seeds can be roasted and eaten.The unripe fruit of some species are cooked as a vegetable.


Propagation


Basic requirements
Cantaloupe is a warm-season crop, requiring lots of sun and good drainage to develop optimally and growing best at temperatures between 18 and 28°C (65–82°F). Melon will yield best if grown in a light, well-draining soil, rich in organic matter and with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Cantaloupe should be planted in full sun and are heavy feeders and water users. They need to be provided with ample soil moisture and fertilized regularly. Vining varieties can grow to very large sizes and require a good deal of space.

Sowing seeds
Cantaloupe can be direct seeded in areas with a long, warm growing season but in more Northern climates it should be sown indoors and transplanted. If direct seeding,seeds should be sown after the last frosts and when the soil has warmed to at least 18.4°C (65°F). Allow 90–120 cm (~3–4 ft) between seeds in a row and 150–180 cm (~5–6 ft) between rows. If transplanting, seeds should be sown approximately 3–4 weeks before the last frost date in your area and transplanted after the plants develop their first set of true leaves. Seeds sown both indoors and out require lightly moist soil for germination, care should be taken to avoid overwatering as seeds are prone to rotting. Seeds should germinate in 3–10 days depending on the soil temperature.

Transplanting
Cantaloupe seedlings should be transplanted when all danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed to at least 18.4°C (65°F). Covering soil with dark plastic or mulch a week prior to planting outdoors can help bring the soil temperature up more quickly in colder regions, allowing earlier planting. Beginning approximately 7–10 days before transplanting, plants should be set outside to harden off (see https://www.plantvillage.com/posts/264). The planting site should be prepared by incorporating plenty of organic matter to encourage vegetative growth. When transplanting seedlings, allow 90–120 cm (~3–4 ft) between plants and 150–180 cm (~5–6 ft) between rows. Drip or soaker irrigation is preferred to overhead irrigation and plants should be watered evenly to keep them moist.

General care and maintenance
Cantaloupe vines are sprawling and require plenty space to grow. Vines can be trained to grow on a trellis or fence to save space. Cantaloupe plants also require a regular supply of water while growing, blooming and setting fruit and where drip irrigation is not being used, plants should be watered deeply once per week, providing at least an inch of water. Mulches can be used to conserve soil moisture and black polyethylene mulch has the advantage of warming the soil.

Harvesting
Cantaloupes are ready to be harvested when the the surface becomes netted and the color underneath turns from green to yellow. When the melon is ready to picked the stem will come away easily from the fruit.



References

CABI Crop Protection Compendium. (2011). Cucumis melo datasheet. Available at: http://www.cabi.org/cpc/datasheet/16966. [Accessed 05 November 14]. Paid subscription required.

Foord, K. & MacKenzie, L. (2009). Growing melons (cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydew) in Minnesota home gardens. University of Minnesota Extension. Available at: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/y.... [Accessed 10 November 14]. Free to access

Zitter, T. A., Hopkins, D. L. & Thomas, C. E. (1996). Compendium of Cucurbit diseases. American Phytopathological Society Press. Available at: http://www.apsnet.org/apsstore/shopap.... Available for purchase from APS Press.




Common Pests and Diseases

Angular leaf spot
Pseudomonas syringae

Symptoms
Small water-soaked lesions on leaves which expand between leaf veins and become angular in shape; in humid conditions, lesions exude a milky substance which dries to form a white crust on or beside lesions; as the disease progresses, lesions turn tan and may have yellow/green edges; the centers of the lesions dry and may drop out leaving a hole in the leaf.
Cause
Bacterium
Comments
Spread through infected seed, splashing rain, insects and movement of people between plants; bacterium overwinters in crop debris and can survive for 2.5 years.
Management
Use disease-free seed; do not grow plants in field where cucurbits have been grown in the previous 2 years; protective copper spray may help reduce incidence of disease in warm, humid climates; plant resistant varieties.

Bacterial wilt
Erwinia tracheiphila

Symptoms
Wilting of individual runners or entire plant; leaves and stems of affected parts turn dark green; wilting is irreversible; affected parts turn necrotic.
Cause
Bacterium
Comments
Spread by striped or spotted cucumber beetles; disease can be confirmed by cutting the stem and slowly pulling the two ends apart - infected plants will ooze strings of bacterial exudate.
Management
Control cucumber beetle populations on plants; hand pick adult beetles and destroy; soil and foliar application of appropriate insecticides may help to control populations.

Southern blight (Stem and fruit rot)
Sclerotium rolfsii

Symptoms
Sudden wilting of leaves; yellowing foliage; browning stem above and below soil; browning branches; stem may be covered with fan-like mycelial mat.
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Fungus can survive in soil for long periods; disease emergence favored by high temperatures, high humidity and acidic soil; disease found mainly in tropical and subtropical regions, including the southern United States.
Management
Remove infected plants; avoid overcrowding plants to promote air circulation; rotate crops with less susceptible plants; plow crop debris deep into soil; provided a barrier to infection by wrapping lower stems of plant with aluminum foil covering below ground portion of stem and 2-3 in above soil line.

Fusarium wilt
Fusarium oxysporum

Symptoms
Yellowing and wilting of runners; lesions on the runner extend from crown to tips; lesions on roots and stems; internal red to brown discoloration.
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Disease emergence favored by warm, wet soil.
Management
Plant in well draining soils and avoid waterlogging; plant fungicide treated seed; rotate crops on 4 year rotation.

Gummy stem blight
Didymella bryoniae

Symptoms
Circular brown or tan spots of various sizes on leaves; leaves covered with lesions; stems splitting and forming cankers; wounds exude a brown, gummy substance; wilting vines; death of stems; small water-soaked lesions on fruit which enlarge and exude gummy subatnace; black fruiting bodies often present in lesions.
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Disease may be seed-borne.
Management
Use disease free seed; treat seeds prior to planting; rotate crops every 2 years.

Anthracnose (Leaf spot, Fruit rot)
Colletotrichum orbiculare

Symptoms
Lesions on fruit and leaves which may develop salmon pink spore masses during periods of wet weather.
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Favors wet conditions.
Management
Rotate crops with non-cucurbits every 1-2 years to prevent disease build-up; plant only disease free, treated seed.

Charcoal rot
Macrophomina phaseolina

Symptoms
yellowing, dying leaves; water-soaked lesion on stem at soil line; stems oozing amber gummy substance; stem drying and turning tan brown in color; lesion may girdle stem and kill plant;
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Primarily affects fall season melons.
Management
Rotate crop to a non-host for 2-3 years to reduce disease build-up; avoid water stress to plants; plow crop debris deep into soil or remove and destroy after harvest.

Downy mildew
Pseudoperonospora cubensis

Symptoms
Dead or dying leaves; yellow to brown lesions on the upper side of leaves; purple growth developing on the underside of leaves.
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Favors heavy rains and moving water.
Management
Do not overcrowd plants; avoid overhead irrigation, water plants from base; apply appropriate fungicide.

Monosporascus vine decline
Monosporascus cannonballus

Symptoms
Leaves turning chlorotic; sudden collapse of plant canopy 1-2 weeks before harvest; root lesions generally become evident several days after plant death; lesions become covered in black dots (fungal fruiting bodies).
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Symptoms may not appear until the vines are mature with ripening fruit.
Management
Fumigate soil prior to planting; remove and destroy plant roots immediately following harvest.

Powdery mildew
Podosphaera xanthii
Erysiphe cichoracearum

Symptoms
White powdery growth on the upper surfaces of leaves and stems; infected areas stunted and distorted.
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Disease emergence favored by dry weather and high relative humidity.
Management
Plant in sites with good air circulation and sun exposure; do not overcrowd plants; sanitize equipment regularly.

Verticillium wilt
Verticillium dahliae

Symptoms
Symptoms generally appear after fruit set; chlorotic leaves which develop necrotic areas; leaves collapsing; symptoms only on one side of vine; discoloration of vascular tissue in roots.
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Fungus can survive in soil for many years; disease emergence favored by cool or mild weather in Spring.
Management
Do not plant in areas where other susceptible crops have been grown previously; delay planting until temperatures are warmer.

Alternaria leaf blight
Alternaria cucumerina

Symptoms
Small, yellow-brown spots with a yellow or green halo which first appear on the oldest leaves; as the disease progresses, lesions expand and becone large necrotic patches, often with concentric patternation; lesions coalesce, leaves begin to curl and eventually die.
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Disease is prevalent in growing areas where temperatures are high and rainfall is frequent.
Management
Cucurbits should be rotated with another crop every 2 years to reduce levels of inoculum; crop debris should be removed from the field as quickly as possible after harvest or plowed deeply into the soil; applications of appropriate protective fungicides can help to slow the development of the disease; water plants from the base rather than from above to reduce periods of leaf wetness which are conducive to the development and spread of disease.

Cercospora leaf spot
Cercospora citrullina

Symptoms
Initial symptoms of disease occur on older leaves as small spots with light to tan brown centers; as the disease progresses, the lesions enlarge to cover large areas of the leaf surface; lesions may have a dark border and be surrounded by a chlorotic area; the centers of the lesions may become brittle and crack.
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Fungus survives on plant debris; spread by wind and water splash; occurs mainly in tropical and subtropical growing regions.
Management
Any diseased plants should be removed and destroyed to prevent further spread; crop debris should be removed after harvest or plowed deeply into the soil to reduce inoculum.

Septoria leaf spot
Septoria cucurbitacearum

Symptoms
Initial symptoms of disease are small dark water-soaked spots on the leaves which turn beige to white in dry conditions; lesions develop thin brown borders and the centers may become brittle and crack; small white spots may erupt on the surface of infected butternut and acorn squash and pumpkin fruit.
Cause
Fungus
Comments
Pathogen can survive on crop debris for periods in excess of 1 year.
Management
Scout plants during cool wet conditions for any sign of spots; early application of an appropriate protective fungicide can help limit the development of the disease if spots are found' cucurbits should be rotated with other crops every 2 years to prevent the build-up of inoculum; crop debris should be removed and destroyed after harvest.

Aphids (Peach aphid, Melon aphid)
Myzus persicae
Aphis gossypii

Symptoms
Small soft bodied insects on underside of leaves and/or stems of plant; usually green or yellow in color, but may be pink, brown, red or black depending on species and host plant; if aphid infestation is heavy it may cause leaves to yellow and/or distorted, necrotic spots on leaves and/or stunted shoots; aphids secrete a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew which encourages the growth of sooty mold on the plants.
Cause
Insect
Comments
Distinguishing features include the presence of cornicles (tubular structures) which project backwards from the body of the aphid; will generally not move very quickly when disturbed.
Management
If aphid population is limited to just a few leaves or shoots then the infestation can be pruned out to provide control; check transplants for aphids before planting; use tolerant varieties if available; reflective mulches such as silver colored plastic can deter aphids from feeding on plants; sturdy plants can be sprayed with a strong jet of water to knock aphids from leaves; insecticides are generally only required to treat aphids if the infestation is very high - plants generally tolerate low and medium level infestation; insecticidal soaps or oils such as neem or canola oil are usually the best method of control; always check the labels of the products for specific usage guidelines prior to use.

Cucumber beetles (Western striped cucumber beetle, Western spotted cucumber beetle, Banded cucumber beetle)
Acalymma vittata
Diabrotica undecimpunctata
Diabrotica balteata

Symptoms
Stunted seedling; damaged leaves, stems and/or petioles; reduced plant stand; plants may exhibit symptoms of bacterial wilt; scars on fruit caused by beetle feeding damage; adult beetles are brightly colored with either a green-yellow background and black spots or alternating black and yellow stripes
Cause
Insect
Comments
Beetles overwinter in soil and leaf litter and emerge from soil when temperatures begin to reach and exceed 12.7°C (55°F)
Management
Monitor new planting regularly for signs of beetle; floating row covers can be used to protect the plants from damage but will need to be removed at bloom to allow bees to pollinate plants; applications of kaolin clay can be effective for management of small beetle populations; application of appropriate insecticides may be necessary

Cutworms
Agrotis spp.
Peridroma saucia
Nephelodes minians
and others

Symptoms
Stems of young transplants or seedlings may be severed at soil line; if infection occurs later, irregular holes are eaten into the surface of fruits; larvae causing the damage are usually active at night and hide during the day in the soil at the base of the plants or in plant debris of toppled plant; larvae are 2.5–5.0 cm (1–2 in) in length; larvae may exhibit a variety of patterns and coloration but will usually curl up into a C-shape when disturbed.
Cause
Insect
Comments
Cutworms have a wide host range and attack vegetables including asparagus, bean, cabbage and other crucifers, carrot, celery, corn, lettuce, pea, pepper, potato and tomato.
Management
Remove all plant residue from soil after harvest or at least two weeks before planting, this is especially important if the previous crop was another host such as alfalfa, beans or a leguminous cover crop; plastic or foil collars fitted around plant stems to cover the bottom 3 inches above the soil line and extending a couple of inches into the soil can prevent larvae severing plants; hand-pick larvae after dark; spread diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants (this creates a sharp barrier that will cut the insects if they try and crawl over it); apply appropriate insecticides to infested areas of garden or field if not growing organically.

Cabbage looper
Trichoplusia ni

Symptoms
Large or small holes in leaves; damage often extensive; caterpillars are pale green with a white lines running down either side of their body; caterpillars are easily distinguished by the way they arch their body when moving; eggs are laid singly, usually on the lower leaf surface close to the leaf margin, and are white or pale green in color.
Cause
Insect
Comments
Insects overwinter as pupae in crop debris in soil; adult insect id a dark colored moth; caterpillars have a wide host range.
Management
Looper populations are usually held in check by natural enemies; if they do become problematic larvae can be hand-picked from the plants; an organically acceptable control method is the application of Bacillus thuringiensis which effectively kills younger larvae; chemical sprays may damage populations of natural enemies and should and should be selected carefully.

Stinkbugs (Various)
Various

Symptoms
Dark colored pinpricks on fruit surrounded by a lighter area that turns yellow or remains light green; stink bugs often carry pathogens in their mouthparts which can cause secondary infections and decay of fruit; adult insect is shield-shaped and brown or green in color; may have pink, red or yellow markings; eggs are drum shaped and laid in clusters on the leaves; larvae resemble the adults but are smaller
Cause
Insect
Comments
Adult insects overwinter under leaves, on legumes, blackberries or on certain weeds such as mustard or Russian thistle
Management
Remove weeds around crop which may act as overwintering sites for stink bugs and practice good weed management throughout the year; organically accepted control methods include the use of insecticidal soaps, kaolin clay and preservation of natural enemies; chemical treatments are not recommended for tomatoes that are to be processed for paste or canning unless secondary infections with other pathogens are a concern

Thrips (Western flower thrips, others)
Frankliniella occidentalis

Symptoms
If population is high leaves may be distorted; leaves are covered in coarse stippling and may appear silvery; leaves speckled with black feces; insect is small (1.5 mm) and slender and best viewed using a hand lens; adult thrips are pale yellow to light brown and the nymphs are smaller and lighter in color
Cause
Insect
Comments
Transmit viruses such as Tomato spotted wilt virus; once acquired, the insect retains the ability to transmit the virus for the remainder of its life
Management
Avoid planting next to onions, garlic or cereals where very large numbers of thrips can build up; use reflective mulches early in growing season to deter thrips; apply appropriate insecticide if thrips become problematic

Squash bug
Anasa tristis

Symptoms
Speckled leaves which turn yellow and brown; wilting plants; dieback of runners; blemished fruit; fruit death; adult squash bugs are often misidentified as stink bugs; they are grey-black in color with orange and black stripes on the edges of their abdomen; nymphs are greenish gray in color and often covered in white powder; female squash bugs lay conspicuous copper colored eggs on the undersides of the leaves.
Cause
Insect
Comments
Squash bugs overwinter in crop debris or under rocks and stones.
Management
Destroy all crops residue as soon as possible after harvest or on plant death; apply row covers at planting; apply insecticidal soap or appropriate insecticide.

Flea beetles
Epitrix spp.

Symptoms
Small holes or pits in leaves that give the foliage a characteristic “shothole” appearance; young plants and seedlings are particularly susceptible; plant growth may be reduced; if damage is severe the plant may be killed; the pest responsible for the damage is a small (1.5–3.0 mm) dark colored beetle which jumps when disturbed; the beetles are often shiny in appearance.
Cause
Insects
Comments
Younger plants are more susceptible to flea beetle damage than older ones; older plants can tolerate infestation; flea beetles may overwinter on nearby weed species, in plant debris or in the soil; insects may go through a second or third generation in one year.
Management
In areas where flea beetles are a problem, floating row covers may have to be used prior to the emergence of the beetles to provide a physical barrier to protect young plants; plant seeds early to allow establishment before the beetles become a problem - mature plants are less susceptible to damage; trap crops may provide a measure of control - cruciferous plants are best; application of a thick layer of mulch may help prevent beetles reaching surface; application on diamotecoeus earth or oils such as neem oil are effective control methods for organic growers; application of insecticides containing carbaryl, spinosad, bifenthrin and permethrin can provide adequate control of beetles for up to a week but will need reapplied.

Root knot nematode
Meloidogyne spp.

Symptoms
Galls on roots which can be up to 3.3 cm (1 in) in diameter but are usually smaller; reduction in plant vigor; yellowing plants which wilt in hot weather.
Cause
Nematode
Comments
Galls can appear as quickly as a month prior to planting; nematodes prefer sandy soils and damage in areas of field or garden with this type of soil is most likely.
Management
Plant resistant varieties if nematodes are known to be present in the soil ;check roots of plants mid-season or sooner if symptoms indicate nematodes; solarizing soil can reduce nematode populations in the soil and levels of inoculum of many other pathogens.

Aster yellows
Aster yellows phytoplasma

Symptoms
Foliage turning yellow; secondary shoots begin growing prolifically; stems take on a rigid, upright growth habit; leaves are often small in size and distorted, may appear thickened; flowers are often disfigured and possess conspicuous leafy bracts; fruits are small and pale in color.
Cause
Phytoplasma
Comments
Disease is transmitted by leafhoppers and can cause huge losses in cucurbit crops.
Management
Remove any infected plants from the field to reduce spread; control weeds in and around the field that may act as a reservoir for the phytoplasma; protect plants from leaf hopper vectors with row covers.

Squash mosaic
Squash mosaic virus (SqMV)

Symptoms
Symptoms vary with variety being grown but plants can show symptoms which include include green veinbanding, mottled leaves, blisters, ring spots or potruding veins at leaf margins; some squash varieties may develop leaf enations; infected plants are often stunted and fruits may be malformed with mottled skin.
Cause
Virus
Comments
Virus can be transmitted through infected seed and spread by striped cucumber beetles.
Management
Use only certified disease-free seed.

Watermelon mosaic
Watermelon mosaic virus (WMV)

Symptoms
Symptoms vary widely depending on species, cultivar, virus strain and environmental conditions; symptoms on leaves may include green mosaic patternation, green vein-banding, chlorotic rings and disfigured leaves.
Cause
Virus
Comments
Virus is found in almost all Cucurbit growing regions in the world; virus is spread by over 20 aphid species.
Management
Treatments that control populations of aphid vectors can also reduce the incidence of the virus; spraying plants with mineral oils or insecticidal soaps can help to reduce aphid numbers.

Zucchini yellow mosaic
Zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV)

Symptoms
Infected plants are severely stunted and leaves can exhibit a variety of symptoms including yellow mosaic patternation, severe deformation, blistering, reduced size and necrosis; fruits are deformed.
Cause
Virus
Comments
DIsease can cause devastating epidemics when present.
Management
Use of resistant varieties, where available, is usually the most effective method of controlling the virus; control of aphid populations on the plants can be achieved through the use of mineral oils and insecticidal soaps but is rarely effective at controlling the virus.

Cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus
Cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV)
Genus: Crinivirus
Group: "Positive sense ssRNA viruses"

Symptoms
The symptoms generally appear on the older leaves first. Initially the symptom appears as chlorotic spotting which leads to intervenial chlorosis and followed by severe yellowing. The infected leaves may roll upward and become brittle. Also the infected plant may appear stunted.
Cause
Virus
Comments
The virus is mainly transmitted by whitefly Bemisia tabaci. The host range is restricted to the Cucurbitaceae (watermelon, melon, cucumber, squash, courgette etc.).
Management
Grow virus free and whiteflies free seed materials. During the growing season use yellow sticky traps to monitor and control whiteflies. Remove the infected plants and burn them. Keep the field free from weeds. In case severe infestation of whiteflies, use suitable insecticides. After a growing season remove the crop debris, volunteer plants and destroy them.

Cucumber mosaic
Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV)

Symptoms
Plants are severely stunted; foliage is covered in distinctive yellow mosaic; leaves of plant curl downwards and leaf size is smaller than normal; flowers on infected plants may be deformed with green petals; fruits become distorted and are small in size; fruit is often discolored.
Cause
Viruses
Comments
Transmitted by aphids; virus has an extensive host range; can be mechanically transmitted via tools etc.
Management
Control of the virus is largely dependant on the control of the aphid vectors; reflective mulches can deter aphid feeding; aphid outbreaks can be treated with mineral oils or insecticidal soap applications; some resistant varieties are available.