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Texas AgriLife Research scientists making better melons

, would have produced up to 85,000 kilos of total production of melons per hectare. Later-planted melons were estimated to have potentially produced about 50,000 kilos per hectare.

"From these totals, we had up to 75 percent marketable melons," Leskovar said. "We grew these melons using drip irrigation and are assessing the use of varying amounts of irrigation to determine the effects on melon growth. Melon production is similar to that of peppers in that drip irrigation is the key, along with proper bed population and mulching of the beds."

Researchers at the center are using scientific technology to take vegetative growth measurements to determine how the melons cope with varying levels of irrigation, as well as differing soil types and levels. The mini-rhizotron technique is used to image root development, a portable photosynthesis system measures gas exchange over the leaf area, and soil moisture sensors assess water dynamics around the plant root systems.

"These measurements are used to determine whether the roots are developing properly and achieving adequate soil penetration, as well as the effects of the variables we are using in our investigations on plant physiology," Leskovar said.

Melon varieties were planted at three different locations including a study at the Uvalde center where plants were given 50 percent and 100 percent irrigation to determine effects on yield, quality and root management, said Sat Pal Sharma, graduate research assistant at the Uvalde center.

"We discovered that some melon varieties still provided excellent yields with only 50 percent irrigation when applied after the young transplants are fully established, and that one specialty melon produced as well or better than a traditionally planted variety, Sharma said. "Potentially this could mean that a producer could make a lot more from planting the higher-value specialty melon instead."

"We're investigating the use of synthetic c

Contact: Dr. Daniel Leskovar
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications

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