Seed can be picked more diligently in respect to the fruit’s taste and appearance; good characters with minimal cavities and heavy netting; and a willingness to grow average size melons. Seed should only be purchased from most reliable suppliers.
Experience has shown that a sandy loam is the soil ideally suited for cantaloupes, and that its tilth state and the fertility available are the prime important in taking cantaloupes to rapid maturity.
The secret of getting soil is largely one of experience in that ashy, mellow condition so desirable for cantaloupes, for hardly two farms can be treated the same. In general, moisture must be present in the soil over the winter to get the frost disintegrating effect and plowing should not be done until the soil is dry enough to pulverize mellow.
Barnyard manure has long been a way of supplying fertility for pressuring cantaloupes to mature early. Old land of alfalfa is ideally suited for cantaloupe cuisine. Bermuda sod plowed up and exposed to the sun without irrigation the previous summer allows excellent cantaloupe soil, the extensive cultivation needed serving both to support the crop and to curb this formidable vine.
The irrigation furrow generally supplies moisture for the cantaloupe hill. It should always take soaking through the soil to reach the seed or plant. Irrigation should never cause the soil to over-soak or flood, as the soil then becomes tough and does not create for proper growth. A rather mooted issue is the connection of irrigation to a new collection of cantaloupes.
Some growers argue that frequent watering is used to secure a good set during the setting period. Others prefer to keep the cantaloupe vines slightly dry and even let them show the need for water before they irrigate during the setting stage. Results have appeared to support both theories, yet close observation would not warrant following either plan to an extreme, but rather an ordinary course of supplying sufficient moisture for an even, healthy growth, which seems to be the essential condition throughout. An abundance of irrigation during the hot weather in July will undoubtedly continue to grow vines at the cost of fresh fruit.
The most catastrophic consequence of so much water is having the soil soaked until the surface is almost entirely saturated. Affording the warm, dewy state favorable to its growth as is the production of rust. The problem of rust in Colorado’s cantaloupe culture is a serious one. Controlling it by correctly applying irrigation is only a palliative measure. Yet a marked contrast is often seen in two parts of a field; one over-irrigated, and the other comparatively dry, aside from the moisture needed for the vines to grow.
Rainy weather and dewy nights provide the right conditions for rust spore production, and although the gardener is unable to alter climatic conditions, while carefully applying water, keeping the rows well-drained, and sufficient lateral waste to avoid over-soaking and flooding, the surface of the field should dry quickly after a rain or irrigation. Thus the night-time dews will be less, and in one measure will alleviate the effects of rust.
Depending on environmental conditions, cantaloupes ripen 35-45 days after pollination. The skin transforms from green to smooth yellow-beige, the “netting” surface transforms rough, and the tendrils discolor and dry around the fruit.
Research suggests not to wait until the fruit falls off the vine. Look instead for indications that it is ready to harvest, then gently loosen the cantaloupe from the stem. This can simply break away. If not, then stop and let it ripen for a couple more days. When separated from the vine, cantaloupes don’t ripen.
Cantaloupes from the grocery store that still have little stems attached were picked too early and will probably not be very sweet.
The cantaloupes can be kept for about one to two weeks at 45 to 50 degrees F
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