Muskmelon Variety Trial (1979)

Research report from OSU's North Willamette Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Delbert Hemphill
OSU Dept of Horticulture, NWREC

This trial included several standard varieties, newly named varieties from several seed companies, several experimental lines from Harris Seeds, and a large number of early maturing varieties from across the country, for a total of 51 lines or varieties. Commercial production in the Willamette Valley must compete with high quality, high-yield production from California. For a variety to be commercially successful here, it must be early maturing, disease resistant, and capable of storage. Home garden requirements are similar except that keeping quality is relatively unimportant and novelty varieties may be desirable.

All varieties were seeded in a heated greenhouse on April 20, 1979, and transplanted to black plastic-covered, raised beds on May 28. Before formation of the seven foot center beds, 1,000 pounds/acre of 10-20-10 and 100 pounds/acre of calcium nitrate were broadcast and incorporated. Between plant spacing on the beds was three feet. Viaflo tubing was used for drip irrigation. Six plants of each variety, in three randomly distributed replications of two plants each, were set through holes cut in the plastic and watered in with a solution of one ounce/gallon of 10-30-20.

Table 3 contains data on the yield, mean fruit size, and harvest period of 20 varieties which were judged most successful in terms of yield, earliness, and quality. Table 4 lists the source of each of the 20 varieties and some comments. Table 5 lists the sources of the remaining 31 varieties included in the trial.

  Table 3. Size, Yield, and Harvest of Muskmelon Varieties, NWES, 1979                                   Percent harvest by date   Mean fruit    Yield     Rank by  Variety               8/1 8/20 9/10 9/30 10/20    wt. (lb) (tons/acre)   yield   Samson                 0   15   16   3    66        2.6        20.9        1   Burpee Early Crenshaw  1   24   21  14    40        4.4        20.1        2  Hale's Best Jumbo      0   17   26  37    20        2.7        17.8        3   Gold Star              0   65    3   9    23        2.6        16.9        4   Earlidew (honey dew)   1   33   14  12    40        2.3        10.8        5   Iroquois               0   31    7   2    37        2.6        16.4        6  Zenith                 2   57    5   2    34        2.0        16.1        7  MRM 9                  7   54   29   7     3        2.9        15.9        8  Chaca Hybrid           0   50    4   3    43        1.4        15.6        9   Honey Drip (honey dew) 2   32   30  27     9        2.1        15.2       10  Golden Champlain       2   40    0  35    23        1.8        14.9       11  Kazakh (honey dew)     0   31   12  12    35        1.5        14.9       12  PCNVB                  0   78    0   8    14        3.4        14.7       13  GQVW                   3   49    5   8    35        2.6        14.4       14  Summet                 3   43    2   9    43        1.8        13.2       19   Early Dawn            22   40    0   4    34        2.3        13.2       20   Supermarket            2   40    4  23    31        1.8        12.9       22   G-25-VB                0   76   20   0    14        2.8        12.2       25  G-25-P                 7   77    0   0    16	    2.3        12.1       26  Harper Hybrid          4   58    2   8    28        1.8        12.1       28            Table 4. Sources of Muskmelon Varieties; Comments                               Variety                    Source       Comments                               A. Crenshaw Types  Burpee Early Crenshaw        2          Vigorous vines; salmon flesh, bland                                          flavor, small seed cavity; large                                           fruit; mid-season maturity.  B. Honeydew Types  Earlidew                     3          Medium vigor; green flesh; cream to                                          yellow skin splits easily; small                                           cavity, good honeydew flavor; good                                          size and yield; early to mid-season.  Honey Drip                   7          Medium vigor; green flesh; cream skin                                           which splits very easily; crisp,                                           sweet, strong honey flavor,                                           excellent during hot weather, but poor                                           quality if ripens during cool weather;                                           goodyield; early to mid-season.  Kazakh                       3          Medium vigor; green to cream flesh;                                           smooth green and orange shin; large                                           cavity, bland honeydew flavor; good                                           yield; mid-season.  C. Cantaloupes, musk-flavored  Chaca Hybrid                 6          Medium vigor; salmon flesh;                                           lightly ribbed and moderately                                           netted; mild, almost honeydew type                                           flavor; small cavity; good yield; early.  Early Dawn                   4          Vigorous; salmon flesh; heavily                                           ribbed, finely netted; fair flavor;                                           fair yield; very early; concentrated                                           set but will mature a second crop in                                           a warm year.  G-25-P                       4          Vigorous; salmon flesh; small cavity;                                           heavily ribbed and netted, oval; very                                          sweet and somewhat bland; fair yield;                                           very early and concentrated set.  G-25-VB                      4          Same as G-25-P  Gold Star                    4          Vigorous; salmon flesh; heavily                                           ribbed and netted; resists cracking,                                           holds well; sweet, juicy, a little                                          bland; very good yield and early,                                          concentrated maturity.  Golden Champlain             3          Medium vigor; salmon flesh;                                          moderately ribbed and heavily netted;                                           large, dry cavity; bland; good                                           yield; early and will mature second                                           crop in warm year.  GQVW                        4           Vigorous; salmon flesh; heavily ribbed                                          and netted; large cavity; cracks easily;                                           bland flavor; good yield; early.  Hale's Best Jumbo           4           Medium vigor; salmon flesh; nearly                                           ribless and heavy, finely spaced                                           netting; large cavity; firm flesh                                          with good flavor; very good yield;                                           mid-season to late maturity.  Harper Hybrid               8           Medium vigor; salmon flesh; heavily                                          ribbed and netted; oval; large                                           cavity; good flavor but soft                                           texture; fair yield; early.  Iroquois                    8           Vigorous; salmon flesh; heavily ribbed                                           and netted; fairly good flavor,                                           keeps well; good yield; mid-season.  MRM9                        4           Medium vigor; salmon flesh; heavily                                           ribbed and net pronounced oval                                           shape; fair flavor, tends to be                                           overripe at full slip; good yield;                                           very early and concentrated set.  PCNVB                       4           Medium vigor; salmon flesh; good yield;                                           heavy ribbing and netting, squat spheroid;                                           large cavity; good flavor; early and                                           highly concentrated set.  Samson                      6           Vigorous; salmon flesh; ribless,                                          heavily netted; small cavity; good                                          flavor but tends to be overripe at                                          full slip; excellent yield of large                                           fruit but main crop too late for                                           Willamette Valley.  Summet                      1           Medium vigor; salmon flesh; heavily                                           ribbed and netted, thick skin; soft,                                          sweet flesh, fair yield; early but                                          with large second crop.  Supermarket                 4           Medium vigor; salmon flesh; nearly                                           ribless and heavily netted; large                                          cavity; very sweet even when firm;                                           fair yield; early to mid-season.  Zenith                      5           Medium vigor; salmon flesh; heavily                                           ribbed and netted, thick skin;                                           small, dry cavity; crisp, sweet,                                           mild flavor; good yield; early.            Sources: (1) Asgrow Seed Co. (2) Burpee Seed Co. (3) Gurney Seed Co.  (4) Jos. Harris Co. (5) Keystone Seed Co. (6) Geo. Park Seed Co.   (7) Rogers Bros. Seed Co. (8) Stokes Seeds, Inc.      Table 5. Other Varieties Included in Trial                                          Source             Varieties                                                        Geo. Ball, Inc.       Ball 1776  Burpee Seed Co.       Burpee Hybrid, Fordhook Gem, Haogen, Mainerock, Sweet'n Early  Farmer Seed Co.       Charentais Sweetheart  Ferry Morse Seed Co.  Perlita Honey Rock  Gurney Seed Co.       Bush Midget, Classic, Far North, Minnesota Honey,                         Minnesota Midget  Jos. Harris Co.       Delicious 51, GQM9, Saticoy  Keystone Seed Co.     Cameo  Geo. Park Seed Co.    Bushwhopper, Granite State, Luscious, Short'n Sweet  Petoseed, Inc.        Top Score, X1876  Rogers Bros.          Summer Dream  Stokes Seeds, Inc.    Ambrosia, Canada Gem, Charentais Improved, Earlisweet,                        Honey Rock, Perfection, Sugar Salmon                           

The 1979 growing season was unusually warm and dry. Thus, disease pressure was low and late season varieties may have performed better than would be expected in a normal summer. Total yields in Table 3 should be reduced by the percentage of fruit harvested in October to determine yield potential in most years. For example, the variety Samson had the highest overall yield but nearly two-thirds of the fruit ripened in October. Several early varieties, such as Gold Star, Earlidew, Zenith, and Chaca, also had high total yields because of the ripening of a second crop.

Honey Drip was the most impressive of the honeydew types with excellent fruit quality during August. But later ripening fruit was of mediocre quality and splitting was a problem. Earlidew was the more consistent performer, although not equal to Honey Drip at its best. X1876 also had good quality.

Of the salmon-fleshed and musky-flavored types, Gold Star, an industry standard for several years, had the best combination of yield, quality, and earliness. Hale's Best Jumbo yielded very well but matured late. Zenith and MRM9 were other good, early, high yielding melons. Early Dawn was best of the melons which matured significant quantities of fruit by August 1. Several experimental lines from Harris, such as MRM9, PCNVB, and GQVW, were notable for earliness, good yield, and concentrated maturity.

Burpee Early Crenshaw, the only Crenshaw in the trial, had high yield, but most fruit matured late and quality was only adequate.

Small or large cavity under comments refers to the volume of the seed cavity. Many large fruit contain rather little flesh and this was considered a negative quality. A dry cavity with easily removed seeds was considered a positive quality. Varieties which stood out because of some unique quality included Fordhook Gem (green flesh but musk flavor), Saticoy (spicy flavor), MRM9 and G-25 (extreme ovoid shape). Earliest harvest date was July 25 with Summet, X1876, Charentais Sweetheart, Delicious 51, Early Dawn, Far North, and Bush Midget each maturing at least one fruit by this date.