Melons 2003-2004

2004

Melons for sale at student produce stand

2003 Growing Methods

During the growing season of 2003, 12 varieties of specialty melons were grown at the Horticulture Research Center. The plants were started in the greenhouse in mid-April and transplanted to the field in the end of May at 3′ in-row spacing with 5′ between rows (note: commercial melon production is usually 12″ in-row spacing). Approximately 8 plants of each variety were transplanted into a black plastic mulch with a single line of drip tape. We began harvesting melons in mid-August and continued through early October. Taste tests were conducted at the CSU Student Organic Produce Stand and the Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Fall Picnic.

2003 Yield Results

Information on the varieties and their yields follows:

Variety
Type
Avg. Melon Wt. (lbs.)
Lbs. Fruit/Plant
French Orange
Canteloupe
2.2
8.4
Earliqueen
Canteloupe
2.2
6.9
Haogen
Galia/Tropical
1.8

7.7

Charentais
French Charentais
2.2
6.3
Passport
Galia/Tropical
2.2
10.4
Swan Lake
Honeydew/Dessert
2.7
9.5
Sharlyn
Honeydew/Dessert
3.9
10.3
Amy
Spanish/Canary
4.1
13.3
St. Nick
Winter Melon
5.2
6.9
Dorado
Winter Melon
5.6
15.0
Eel River
Winter Melon
5.1
15.0
Sweet Beauty
Watermelon

6.4

13.6

The following graphs display the pounds of melons harvested per plant over the 2003 growing season showing seasonal peaks for each of the melon groups:

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2003 Photos and Production Notes:

Photo
Variety
Type
Production Notes
French Orange Melon
French Orange
Canteloupe
Attractive, deep colored flesh, very aromatic and flavorful, small to medium sized, uniform melons
Earliqueen Melon
Earliqueen
Canteloupe
Very productive, early canteloupe, excellent flavor when picked ripe (full slip)
Charentais Melon
Charentais
French Charentais
More delicate than a canteloupe flavor, begins splitting when fully ripe which European consumers appreciate, this also attracts sap beetles
Passport Melon
Passport
Galia/Tropical
Very aromatic, nice texture, as with all Galia/Tropical melons flavor may be excellent or somewhat plain, early season melons seem to be the most flavorful
Haogen Melon
Haogen
Galia/Tropical
Delicious but difficult to pick at prime flavor, very sweet aromatic, smooth green textured melon
Swan Lake Melon
Swan Lake
Honeydew / Dessert
Favored at market stand, delicious, unique, flower bouquet
 

No Photo

Available

 

Sharlyn
Honeydew / Dessert
Not a favorite, mixed reviews
Amy Melon
Amy
Spanish/Canary
Reliable melon, smooth yellow skin, good taste.
Dorado Melon
Dorado

Spanish/Canary

Typical canary melon, sweet, crisp, tough rind, holds well in the field
St. Nick Melon
St. Nick
Winter Melon
As jolly as its name, large melon, held up for a long time, tastey, crisp, good reviews
Eel River Melon
Eel River
Winter Melon
Good melon, bad name, similar to St. Nick
Sweet Beauty Watermelon
Sweet Beauty
Watermelon
Nice icebox sized watermelon, inexperienced pickers allowed fruit to get overripe, pretty concentrated fruit set, very sweet, delicious taste

Conclusion/Recommendations:

We concluded that these melons have excellent flavor, texture, and aromas, and that a fall crop can be produced in northern Colorado. Yields are fair but high prices make the effort worthwhile.

Specialty melons are becoming increasingly popular. Our climate allows for reasonable production and quality. There is excellent potential for market farmers to establish themselves as niche producers of unique melons.

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2003 Taste Tests

Dorado cross-section Melon tasting at the CSU Student Organic Market French Orange cross-section
Dorado
Melon tasting at the CSU Student Organic Market
French Orange

The results below are from a taste test conducted at the CSU Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Fall Picnic. “Tasters” were asked to rate the melons from 1 to 5 based on flavor, sweetness, texture, aroma, and eye appeal. Approximately 40 people participated in the taste testing. All participants agreed that these specialty melons tasted better than regular store-bought canteloupe.

Variety
Flavor
Sweetness
Texture
Aroma
Eye Appeal
Eel River
3.6
3.6
3.4
3.2
3.7
Sharlyn
3.7
3.6
3.5
3.4
3.5
Amy
3.7
3.4
3.4
2.7
3.2
French Orange
4.0
3.8
3.9
3.6
4.7
Haogen
3.6
3.5
3.3
3.3
3.6
Dorado
2.9
3.0
3.1
2.8
3.2
St. Nick
3.6
3.5
3.6
2.9
3.0

French Orange was the clear winner with high scores for all categories. Dorado wasn’t rated a favorite amongst most tasters. St. Nick scored fairly well but with low values for aroma and eye appeal.

2004 Specialty Melon Project

2004 Growing Methods

During the growing season of 2004 we grew 15 varieties of melons at the Horticulture Research Center. Unfortunately we were plagued by an intense golf-ball sized hail storm on August 10, 2004. The marketable harvest of most melons was drastically reduced. However, we were able to record some data on the remaining melons and that information is presented here. Taste tests were also conducted with data reported below. Melon with Hail Damage

The plants were started in the greenhouse on April 16th in peat pots, fertilized once a week with fish emulsion fertilizer, and transplanted to the field on May 24th with 14″ in-row spacing and 5′ between rows (note: commercial melon production is usually 12″ in-row spacing). Approximately 40 plants of each variety (except for the variety Amy, which had only 5 demonstration plants) were transplanted into a black plastic mulch with a single line of drip tape. We began harvesting melons in early August and continued through the end of September. Taste tests were conducted at the Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Fall Picnic and our Fall Specialty Crops Field Day.

In addition to the hail, flea beetles also damaged our melon plants this year, especially soon after transplanting. We sprayed spinosad on the plants two times in the end of June.

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2004 Yield Data

The following table displays the average melon weight for the different melon varieties. The percentage of melons lost after hail damage is also listed – this is based on counts of melons at the time of the hail storm versus what was actually harvested and marketable.

Variety
Type
Avg Melon Wt . (lbs.)
% post-hail loss
Rayaan
Anana
2.8
49%
Sun Jewel
Asian
1.0
47%
Serenade
Butterscotch
1.7
54%
Sweetie #6
Butterscotch
1.0
54%
Earligold
Canteloupe
3.1
73%
Earliqueen
Canteloupe
2.1
35%
Edonis
French Charentais
1.9
43%
Savor
French Charentais
1.3
93%
Arava
Galia/Tropical
2.8
30%
Passport
Galia/Tropical
3.6
13%
Honey Orange
Honeydew
2.3
69%
Honey Pearl
Honeydew
3.2
67%
Amy
Spanish/Canary
2.6
67%
Golden Beauty
Spanish/Canary
3.9
61%
Sugar Nut
Spanish/Canary
3.0
51%

The following graph demonstrates the difference in yield between two melon varieties grown both in 2003 and 2004. Significantly cooler temperatures in 2004 resulted in a later harvest and possibly contributed to reduced yield in addition to the hail damage (see our Study Area web page for weather information).

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2004 Melon Photos and Production Notes

Variety – Type
Photo – outside
Photo – inside
Notes
Rayaan – Anana
Rayyan melon
Rayyan melon sliced
Football shaped fruits, if rind starts to yellow then it is getting over-ripe.
Sun Jewel – Asian
Sun Jewel Melon
Sun Jewel Melon sliced
Extremely productive and early harvest, not a big winner in taste tests, small sized melon.
Serenade – Butterscotch
Serenade Melon
Serenade Melon sliced
Charentais-like, small, not very productive.
Sweetie # 6 – Butterscotch
Sweetie No. 6 Melon
No Photo Available
Small, charentais-like, problems with recognizing ripe melons.
Earligold – Canteloupe
Earligold Melon
Earligold Melon sliced
Good performing western style canteloupe, not deeply sutured, fine netting.
Earliqueen – Canteloupe
Earliqueen Melon
Earliqueen Melon sliced
Medium-sized melon, good flavor.
Edonis – French Charentais
Edonis Melon
Edonis Melon sliced
Rich color, medium to small melon.
Savor – French Charentais
Savor Melon sliced
Small, classic Charentais melon.
Arava – Galia/Tropical
Arava Melon
No Photo Available
Large fruits, very round, hit or miss flavor.
Passport – Galia/Tropical
Passport Melon
Passport Melon sliced
Very aromatic, nice texture, , early season melons seem to be the most flavorful
Honey Orange – Honeydew
Honey Orange Melon
Honey Orange Melon sliced
Somewhat difficult to tell when melon is ripe in the field, big winner in taste tests.
Honey Pearl – Honeydew

No Photo Available (looks very similar to Honey Orange on the outside)

Honey Pearl Melon sliced
Also somewhat difficult to tell when melon is ripe in the field.
Amy – Spanish/Canary
Amy Melon
No Photo Available
Reliable melon, smooth yellow skin, good taste.
Golden Beauty – Spanish/Canary
No Photo Available
Golden Beauty Melon sliced
Large football shaped fruits.
Sugar Nut – Spanish/Canary
Sugar Nut Melon
Sugar Nut Melon sliced
Very productive, good medium sized fruits, another winner in taste tests.

Conclusions/Recommendations:

Acquaintance with specific variety traits is important including the recognition of appropriate harvest stage. There are many varieties available to experiment with and some of the specialty melons exhibit quite variable flavor within a cultivar.

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2004 Taste Tests

Approximately 50 volunteers were lured into participating in the 2004 melon variety taste tests at the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture Fall Picnic. Volunteers took their jobs very seriously as can be seen below.

Volunteer taste testers at the Horticulture and L.A. Fall Picnic

Our volunteer tasters had varying opinions of course on the melon varieties we grew; however, there were some obvious winners and losers. Honey Orange and Sugar Nut were favorites among most taste testers. Rayaan was also often mentioned as a good tasting melon. Sun Jewel consistently rated the lowest in taste tests however a few individuals liked it. See below for detailed information on each variety.

Variety
Most Favorite (% of vote) *
Least Favorite (% of vote) *
Comments
Amy
0%
8%
bland
Arava
0%
0%
hit or miss on flavor, strange, bland, tastes like mushrooms
Earligold
2%
4%
good
Earliqueen
6%
13%
good, tasteless, bland, mealy
Edonis
2%
13%
hit or miss on flavor, dry texture, dirty flavor, bitter, nice bouquet
Golden Beauty
0%
0%
same flavor as sugar nut but more mealy – not much taste
Honey Orange
42%
0%
very sweet, way better than store, pretty, nice flavor, lite
Honey Pearl
2%
4%
nice texture but no flavor, soft, sweet, flat
Passport
6%
13%
bland, like water, flavorless, not too melony but good, mellow
Rayyan
12%
8%
nice balance of sweet and salty, sweetest, excellent, traditional flavor
Sugar Nut
27%
4%
tastes like honeydew, sweet, good texture, nutty, juicy, soft, not too much fiber
Sun Jewel
2%
25%
not much taste, not a favorite, maybe for juice, weak, zesty, citrusy, tarter, no flavor
Sweetie No. 6
0%
8%
hit or miss on flavor, sweeter than cantalope, better flavor, awesome, good, not interesting

*0% indicates that there were no “most favorite” or “least favorite” votes for that variety.

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