problems with cantaloupes

matthew18(5)March 27, 2010

I planted cantaloupes in cells to get them started. They were planted in 100% compost. For the most part they seem to be healthy but some of the leaves, on some of the plants are having issues. The issue is that the leaves slowy turning from a solid green to a fading green/yellow. They also seem to brown up/burn up and get crunchy/crispy. Assuming its sunny they plants get sun from 730am through 5pm with a few hours of dapled sun. I give it 2 syringes(5mm each)of water. Finally, these seedling are in very close proximty to the rest of my seedling(basil, sage, dill, oregnao, peppers, tomatoes. Any idea whats going on? Are they getting to much or to little of something. Lack of compatability with another seedling?

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matthew: you'd have better luck in the vegetables forum than here in the fruit and orchard forum. But, I've raised a few TPs in my years though never melons. My first thought has to do with how long you've been putting the 5cc of water into the cell packs, days, weeks? And what size are the cell packs? You could be developing salts buildup from not running through the potting mix each time you water, this would be even worse if the water also has fertilizer in it.

Are you allowing the soil to dry down some between waterings or keeping it WET at all times? The former is best. Which leaves are turning pale, the oldest leaves or the youngest. Have you fertilized yet and if so with what and how often. How long ago did the seed emerge from the soil?

The amount of direct sun is fine, I'm envious, we haven't had a weeks worth of sunny days all month.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 5:26PM
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Thanks for responding Michael The cells are about 4-5 inchs in width. There are 3 cells per pak. I bought cantaloupes last year at the local graden center, it is actually the same exact pack(washed out of course). At first I was watering every day, but now its about every other. The surface soil is dry looking. I have not fertilized with anything. The seedlings are about a month old now and it primarly the leaves at the bottom of the plant.Im guessing they were the original leaves.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 7:08AM
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I think you may have started your cantaloupes more than a month too early. It would help to know where you are located, but in most places in zone 5 you wouldn't be setting cantaloupe plants outdoors until the 2nd week of May. That's about when I set them out here, and I am in a warmer zone 7.

Vine crops germinate and grow quickly with a little bottom heat, and can quickly become leggy and root bound. I start cantaloupes in the 3rd week of April, and they are the ideal size to set out in a little over 2 weeks. If yours have been in their cell packs for a month, that is already way too long. You want to keep the plants growing vigorously and continuously from seeding to setting out, and that is not possible when you start too early.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 7:51AM
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So am I dead in the water? Why are the lower leaves yellowing and then browning/shriviling up? If I put them in a larger container would that help? The weather is going to warm by the end of the week to 60-70's. I also have the option of putting them in my patio enclosure which can be as much as 10-15 degrees warmer. I'm hoping I can salvage these plants by puttinng them in my patio enclosure (as a bridge stratgy) before I can get them in the ground in May.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 6:41PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

The lower leaves are yellowing and drying up because they are short on nitrogen and possibly other nutrients. The plant tries to survive by translocating the nutrients from the oldest leaves to the youngest. That's it's survival strategy until things improve.

You're not dead in the water but you've been under about 4 minutes. You can try to save these plants but it's over a month until they can go out. Why not follow Don's advice and start some about late April, grow them fast with good nutrition, and have vigorous plants to set out. The newer ones will do better.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 7:32PM
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Matthew: you certainly started them way too early for transplanting. A possible problem with trying to save these is that having been stressed and possibly stressed again in the future, they will start to send out flowers to bear fruit in a last ditch chance to reproduce. As with any veggie transplant, you want to plant it in the ground when immature and growing fast, not struggling and trying to bear fruit/flowers.

I'm in southern zone 5 and wouldn't set out plants till early May or later unless they were going to be under floating row covers or low tunnels. I assume you are trying to get fruit early, if so, go with the tunnels or floating covers. Melons need heat to grow, temps in the 70s will get them to grow slowly but nothing like the 80s and low 90s.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 8:23PM
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Look at it this way: The normal lifespan of a cantaloupe vine, including blossoming, fruiting, and ripening, varies from 70 to about 85 days. By starting your plants so early, more than two-thirds of that lifespan is used up before you can even set out the plants. These things have biological clocks, and you are working against them. Putting the plants in your patio enclosure will not alter these basic facts.

They should be growing vigorously, but not yet blossoming when you set them out.

You cannot salvage these plants. Throw them out and start over at a later date.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 8:25PM
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