Extension of the results from project VX00019 to improve the sugar-content and quality of rockmelons (VX04002)
This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.
What was it all about?
An earlier rockmelon quality project developed agronomic techniques which enabled growers to increase their average soluble solids level from an industry average sweetness of 8.4 per cent to an average of 11.4 per cent with no loss in yield.
However, rockmelons on the Sydney market still remained variable and sweetness ranged between 15.2 and 5.2 per cent with the average ranging from 12 per cent to 8.3 per cent.
Troughs in the soluble solids levels have approximately coincided with fruit from the MIA and Kununurra growing regions. Fruit from other areas such as Mildura, North Qld, Burnett and Katherine were consistently better.
The key difference between Kununurra, MIA and other melon growing areas was that these areas still used flood (furrow) irrigation compared to trickle in the other areas.
When well-managed trickle irrigation was compared to flood irrigation at Kununurra, it resulted in the fruit sweetness of 12 per cent compared only 10.3 per cent for the flood-irrigated crop with no difference in yield or individual fruit weight.
Flesh firmness was also higher in trickle-irrigated compared to flood when the plants were kept free of water stress, but lower when the plants were stressed during fruit development.
A field day was held for local growers on the 17th August 2005 to view the trials and discuss the work with the grower and AHR staff. Several growers attended, and given that the melon industry in Kununurra was made up of a very small number of large growers, this was a pleasing result.
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This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) with the financial support of Multiflex and T-Systems.
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