Are the high temps hurting melons?
I have been having very poor setting of fruit on my muskmelon and watermelon this year. I wonder if it is the high temperatures and desert-like conditions that we have had.
Everything is the same as we have done in previous years: black plastic, drip irrigation, same varieties, and same piece of land. The land was not used last year. It's about half an acre, five 300 ft rows with a bee hive at one end. I know the drought is hurting the bees, but I think they are still there. I was stung as recently as about a month ago while walking by the hive.
The muskmelon leaves wilt in the day time, which I read is normal, but they are starting to die around the edges a little more every time. The watermelon plants look great and the vines are growing quickly, but there are just hardly any melons. The few melons I have range from tennis ball to volley ball size and look perfect, but there should be a lot more of them.
I can't find any relevant research regarding fruit set of melons in the very unusual weather that we have been having. It's 100+ all week with lows around 75 and 20% humidity during the day.
I have been turning on the irrigation almost every day for about an hour, as my grandparents always did before. The only thing I'm doing different is using a little brass fertilizer injector and feeding small amounts as I water. Lately I have been rotating miracle grow, Epson salts, and molasses. I would like to think the fert injection is responsible for at least having healthy plants and is not the cause of my poor fruit set.
If melons should still set fruit in these conditions, then all I can think to do is check on the bees. I did find a newspaper article from last summer that interviewed an Arkansas melon farmer who said that his melons almost shut down entirely above 95 degrees. That's the only thing I could find beyond the typical "melons love heat" advice.