Volume 26 Number 2 2 c~f) b-
APRIL 1, 1916
W. A. McRAE
COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE
THE CULTIVATION OF MELONS (also
Cucumbers) IN FLORIDA
Entered January 31, 1903, at Tallahassee. Florida, as second-class
matter under Act of Congress of June, 1900.
"Acceptance for mailing at special rate of postage provided for
in Section 1103, Act of October 3. 1917, authorized Sept. 11, 1918."
THIS IULLTINS ARE ISSUED REE TO THOSE REQUESTING THEM
T. J. APPLUTARD, STATA PRINTER
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THE CULTIVATION OF MELONS (ALSO
CUCUMBERS) IN FLORIDA
BY H. S. ELLIOTT, Chief Clerk, Dep't. of Agriculture.
The South is the recognized home of the melon family
of fruits, as well as numerous closely allied vegetables,
and there is no portion of it that will produce better or
larger crops than can be grown in our own State. The
melon family of plants do best on a rich, sandy loam
soil with plenty of warm sunshine and moisture. This
kind of soil predominates in Florida, and there is no
country in the world that has more sunshine than can
be found in Florida. All kinds of melons are or can be
raised very successfully in nearly all parts of the State.
But only in the southern portion can they be grown with
real success during the winter months. In the Northern
and Central sections they are planted in the early spring.
Make your first plantings in January, February or March
and from then until May. If you wish to force the crop,
then preparation for a plentiful water supply must be
made in time, as large amounts daily will be required
to bring success.
PREPARATION OF THE SOIL AND FERTILIZING.
The soil should be deeply plowed at least two ways,
and then harrowed two or three times crosswise, the last
time with a smoothing harrow. For cantaloupes lay the
field off in beds about six feet wide and apply the fer-
tilizer in a continuous line in a furrow run along the
center of the beds, using at the rate of about one thou-
sand pounds to the acre. This fertilizer should analyze
about as follows: 5% to 7% ammonia; available phos-
phoric acid, 7% to 9%; potash, 5% to 7%. For water-
melons use the same fertilizer, but apply it as you make
up the hill, using from two to two' and one-half pounds
to each hill, mixing well with the soil. It will be im-
possible to do this work too thoroughly. As soon as the
plants of both the melons and the cantaloupes start to
run, then make a second application of the fertilizer,
using about five hundred pounds to the acre of the same
kind and putting it about one to two feet from the plants
which will reach out after it. It is best not to disturb
the vines after they start to run, as this is liable to bruise
them and lesson the yield. All of this is as suitable for
cucumbers as melons.
DIRECTIONS FOR PLANTING.
Plant the cantaloupe seeds in a straight row about
three or four feet apart along in the middle of the fur-
rows above mentioned, putting about six seed to the hill.
When the plants come up and start to growing well, thin
them out to two or at most three plants to the hill. For
planting the watermelons, lay off your land in checks
eight to ten feet each way and plant in the checks. If
the, land is low, it should be well drained and the seed
planted in hills above the level of the field; but if it is
medium high land, plant on the level. Put the same num-
ber of seed to the hill as you do for cantaloupes, thinning
as soon as the plants start to grow. If you wish to
have extra early melons and cantaloupes, plant in paper
pots, two or three weeks earlier and then at the desired
time transplant to the permanent hill.
The Florida Favorite and the Tom Watson are the most
popular varieties of the watermelons for shipping, al-
though the Duke Jones, the Kolb Gem, Augusta Rattle-
snake and the Kleckly Sweet are well liked in some sec-
tions. The first named are mostly long melons, while the
Jones and Kolb Gem are round. For the home garden
and' local markets there is no melon that will give better
results than can be had from the standard oblong melon.
Kleckly Sweet and Augusta Rattlesnake. Flori ia grown
watermelon seeds give the best results here.
VARIETIES OF CANTALOUPES.
The genuine Rocky Ford cantaloupe is the standard
variety planted in most of the trucking sections of the
State and makes to perfection. The Emerald Gem is
also a fine melon and succeeds well. There is a new
Rocky Ford variety, which should be of special value to
the Florida Growers. It is known as the rust and blight-
resisting Rocky Ford cantaloupe. As its name implies,
it is inunmne to the rust and blight, and as these are the
worst enemies of the cantaloupes in Florida, it should
make this melon a popular variety with Florida truckers
as well for home use and local markets. The Large Late
,Hackensack, Jenny Lind and Montreal Market are also
fine melons. Nothing but Colorado grown seed should be
planted, no matter if you have to pay double the price of
seed to be obtained elsewhere, the crop will more than
make up for the difference in the quality of the fruit.
Frequent and shallow cultivation with a straight tooth
harrow is best where crop is planted in the field, if in the
garden, the hoe is the best. It is essential to keep the
soil well open to let the warm air and sunshine in. It is
also a good idea, when the vines are about one to three
feet long, to pinch off the ends of the main vine. This
makes them put on laterals which form the female flowers,
also adds to the vigor of the vines and yield of fruit,
and causing them to fruit quicker. If the vines appear
to be putting on too many small melons, pinch off some
of them, which will make the fruit that you leave larger
and better. Do not pinch the ends of the watermelon
vines, as the main vines are the principal bearers, unlike
INSECTS AND DISEASES.
The same insects and diseases attack these crops that
attack the cucumber, and the remedies advised for the one
are equally good for the other. If the plants start to
damping off when young, dust them with powdered sul-
phur. This disease is generally caused by excessive mois-
tude and improper drainage, and if these conditions exist
you cannot remedy it, but let it be a warning to you
when you plant your next crop, to see that the land is
thoroughly drained. The Aphis, cut worm, and striped
cucumber beetle are the most formidable insect enemies
of the plants. For Aphis (lice) use good tobacco dust
prepared for the purpose, applied with a dust sprayer,
both over and on underside of leaves, and for other eating
insects, spray with a solution of Arsenate of lead and
water in the proportion of about one and a half pounds
of lead to fifty gallons of water. Should fungus diseases
appear, spray often with Bordeaux Mixture, say every
eight or ten days. This will prevent these troubles, which
is much easier than to cure after they get started.
GATHERING AND SHIPPING.
It is best to ship cantaloupes and watermelons just
before they are full ripe or as soon as they are matured.
Leave a small part of the stem, say an inch, attached to
the melon, as they seem to keep better. If it is desirable
to remove the stem, the vendor can do this when he offers
the fruit for sale to his customers.
Pack the cantaloupes in standard crates, and they may
be wrapped if necessary as it is desired. Wrapping is a
protection from bruising, and this is a matter that must
be guarded against under all circumstances. Water-
melons are packed in cars in which common straw, or hay,
or pine straw from the woods is used to cover well the
bottom and protect the sides and ends of the cars. This
must be carefully done to protect the melons from injury
while in transit.
The measurement for the standard cantaloupe crate
is 12x12x32 inches. Cucumber crates 8x20x27 inches.
SUGGESTIONS AS TO MARKETING THE CROP.
No matter how fine a crop you produce, unless you
make some money out of it your time and labor have
The main thing is to put up your melons or vegetables
in the best manner possible. Grade them very properly
according to size and quality. Pack in standard crates
and be sure to have the crates neat. It will be noted that
the most successful growers put up their products in a
first class manner. It is wise to have a trade mark also,
for fancy stock, if not for all grades, and mark grade on
package; but under no conditions pack anything but
extra fancy stock under first grade. If this is done, it
will not be long before the grower will have a reputation
built up on his brand, and can obtain a good price when
other stock not so carefully graded is hardly bringing
profitable prices. Poorly packed first-class products will
rarely pay a profit. It is a good idea to plant enough of
one kind of fruit and vegetables to be able to ship in car
lots, as if you have good stock and can load a whole car,
straight or mixed, you can nearly always dispose of them
f.o.b. your station, which is much more satisfactory than
shipping to commission men on consignment. Sell at the
station when possible, even though the goods should
bring a less price than is offered in the market or other-
wise; either delays in route, creating poor condition, or
drop in prices may cause a loss. As above suggested,
growers should plant for car lot shipments if possible,
if not, then a number of growers should combine so as to
obtain such benefits.