Hydroponically produced 'Galia' muskmelon—What's the secret?

Nicole L. Shaw, Daniel J. Cantliffe


'Galia' muskmelon (Cucumis melo L. Reticulatus group) is a green-fleshed specialty melon with a yellow-netted rind, bold aroma, and sweet flavor that is highly desirable in the European market. Twelve 'Galia' or 'Galia-type' muskmel on cultivars were grown in a passive-ventilated greenhouse over three seasons in Gainesville, Florida to identify cultivars with the best characteristics, such as fruit yield and quality, as well as potential for year-round production in a Florida protected structure. Seedlings were transplanted into perlite-filled polyethylene bags on 31 Mar. 1999, 14 Oct. 1999, and 1 Mar. 2000. Environmental growing conditions varied among seasons and influenced fruit yield and quality. In spring 1999, yields were not different among cultivars with 2.2 to 3.6 fruit produced per plant. In fall 1999, all cultivars produced 2.3 to 3.8 fruit per plant, except 'Galia-H' and 'Golan', which produced significantly lower yields than all other cultivars (less than 2 fruit per plant). 'Revigal' and 'Omega' produced 5 fruit per plant in spring 2000, but their yields were not significantly different from those of 'Gal-152', 'Gal-52', 'Galia-H', 'Galia-Z', 'Galor', 'Golan', and 'Jalisco'. Total fruit weight was less than 2.3 kg per plant in fall 1999 when temperatures were below 20°C, between 3.1 and 4.8 kg per plant in spring 1999, and between 3.0 and 4.4 kg per plant in spring 2000 when temperatures were greater than 20°C. Average fruit weight was greater than 1.20 kg when plants were not pruned in spring 1999 and less than 0.80 kg when temperatures were below 20°C in fall 1999. Average fruit weights in spring 2000 were between 0.70 kg and 0.90 kg per fruit depending on cultivar. Soluble solids readings varied among seasons and cultivars. Soluble solids for Galia-H' and 'Galia-Z' were greater than 10° Brix in spring 1999, but not different from those of 'Arava-Z', 'Gal-52', 'Jalisco', and 'Revigal'. In fall 1999, 'Omega' had the greatest soluble solids at 11.1° Brix, but was not significantly different from 'Arava-Z', 'Gal-152', and 'Golan'. In spring 2000, 'Gal-52', 'Galia-H', 'Galia-Z', 'Galor', and 'Revigal' cultivars had the sweetest fruit with soluble solids averaging greater than 11.3° Brix. The secrets to hydroponically produced 'Galia' melon include: planting for warm season fruit production, use of vigorous transplants, proper pruning and training, proper irrigation and fertigation, effective use of pollinator insects, and adequate pest and disease control.

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283