Poor Melon/Canteloupe Pollination

harryvetch(Cent.VA/ Zone 7)August 1, 2006

So far this year, my melon production is not where it was last year. The plants are healthy & looking great, but there are just not many fruit developing. I notice many small non pollinated fruit turning yellow & falling off.

The weather here in central VA has been quite hot, does that have an effect on the pollinators?

Just a thought/question for the future....Would it be a good idea to plant maybe a 4X4 area in the middle of my melon patch with clover, or some other flower that might attract bees? If clover, will it still be in bloom in July when I need it? I grow it every year as a winter cover crop, and it is in full bloom in early spring...

Any ideas will be greatly appreciated.

Harry V

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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Actually, I suspect you've already figured out that pollination is the problem, more so than the heat. Hand pollinating might help you this year -- although IMO, that's a solution only for the small home crop! NTL, it really doesn't take all that long to do, it's just an achy-back chore. See link for details; if you aren't saving seed, skip the "close the female" step and just get busy with the male flower.

I suspect that you would be better off with a variety of bee-attracting flowers instead of a single square. Unless you're into large-machine agribusiness, monoculture is never a good idea in any category. However, if 4x4 is the only space you have, build it up into a small pyramid (to give you more surface planting area) and put in an assortment of long-flowering annuals; you *might* be able to find some now at a local nursery. Marigolds, salvias, and zinnias are the most carefree with long blooming periods. If you grow the melons on A-frames, trellis or fencing, next year try interspersing with vine beans such as fortex or scarlet runner (fortex is good eating, SR is pretty) or even a disease resistent lima such as fordhook. Beans are superb for attracting bees and will also act as nitrogen-fixers to enrich the soil.

Here is a link that might be useful: hand-pollination

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 10:55AM
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harryvetch(Cent.VA/ Zone 7)

Thanks Meldy,
Didn't mean to put this in the VA Forum.
It's just a small home garden, I would guess my melon patch is about 20X20, 4 plants of 2 different varieties of cantaloupes & 2 watermelons. The flowers/clover would have been smack dab in the middle, just to get the bees in the area, then maybe they'd visit the melons.

Sure is hot for high noon out there!

Harry,
Sweating in Henrico

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 12:01PM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Why not in VA forum; you're here; we're here!

Hot up here too, feels worse than the thermometer says, humidity must be wa-a-a-y up!

For the fun of it:

http://web.live.weatherbug.com/Broadcaster/1/Home.aspx?zcode=z4798&list=1&lid=BSL

Put your city in the box to get a pretty good forecast:

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/forecasts/VAZ053.php?warncounty=VAC059&city=Annandale

And since we are supposed to get some rain, some time, some where.... [Virginia is in the rightmost sector in the first row of regional sectors]

http://www.weather.gov/radar_tab.php

    Bookmark   August 1, 2006 at 2:16PM
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dogear6(7 / Richmond VA)

My cantaloupe are flowering like crazy but not making fruit. The bees have busy in the summer squash, although even that does not have as many fruit as I would expect. Does anyone know if having the melon and squash so close is making cross pollination problems that is keeping it sterile? I have not yet tried to self pollinate them (haven't had time after I'm done weeding).

    Bookmark   July 29, 2008 at 10:35PM
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