Potassium and nitrogen are key elements in boosting leaf growth and maximizing yield potential. Melons have a relatively high potassium requirement compared to nitrogen. It is thus important that nitrogen-supply is not limiting prior to flowering, or grow and yield will be limited.
The aim of any producer is a high yielding, high quality melon crop that satisfies the end user. There are a number of agronomic factors which can influence melon yield, many within the control of the grower, under given growing systems, climatic and soil conditions.
Crop Nutrition and Melon Yield
Nitrogen is key for growth and development. It is one of the most important nutrients required for high melon yields. Right amount and timing of nitrogen supply is also important. However, too much nitrogen at flowering can restrict flowering, and therefore fruit set and melon yield. Nitrogen form is particularly important and it is critical to maintain a good balance between ammonium and nitrate forms to maintain fast growth and good crop productivity.
Phosphorus is not needed in large quantities but is required during the season for field grown crops. Phosphorus is used throughout the growth period, ensuring a good start and continued growth of a higher yielding crop, with heavier fruit.
Calcium is needed for early seedling strength and to ensure vigorous leaf development and canopy growth, thereby providing high yields.
Magnesium also ensures good leaf growth. Thus a regular supply is needed throughout the life of the crop. Magnesium uptake can be depressed by an excess of other cations so it is important to maintain a correct balance to avoid compromising uptake. An imbalance of cations will lower melon sugar content, and pulp and peel firmness.
Micronutrients have a key role to play in the balanced nutrition of melon crops. Any deficiency will restrict growth and curtail yields. Poor availability of any micronutrient will restrict yield. Boron and zinc play key roles during melon flower set and fruit bud respectively.
Other Crop Management Practices Increasing Melon Yield
- Plant density and spacing are critical to ensure crops make best use of environmental conditions so that melon yield potentials are reached.
- Maintenance of optimum pH ensures nutrients are readily available. Growers can minimize the competitive effects of strong vegetative development by pruning. However, it is important to avoid excessive pruning as un-shaded crops can be at risk of sunscald.
- The control of salinity within the root environment, and water supply management, will maximize growth and ensure good nutrient availability.