Most of us know that honeydew is round to slightly oval shaped with either bright yellow or light green rind color. It is a popular crop grown in areas of Region 1, 2, 3, and some areas of Region 4-A and they are being supplied to different public markets in the provinces and major markets of Manila.
Known You Seed Philippines, Inc. has a wide selection for different varieties of honeydew, but most commonly planted in the country are Brilliant, Jade Lady, Silver World, and Ilocos Gold. Farmers make good incomes if the weather and market prices are favorable, but they always say that to grow crops is not an easy job since farming will never be easy, but it can always be fun and fulfilling.
Through innovations and technology transfers, our farmers in the Philippines have managed to make it quite easy. Here are some helpful tips you can use to start planting honeydew melons.
Honeydew is a hot and dry season crop; the fruit grows best in semi-arid climates and their seed germinates best at the temperature of 28 to 30º C and grows well at 25 to 35º C. The plant requires plenty of sunshine and enough water supply from seedling up to harvesting. However, continuous rain or humidity will cause problems and reduce flowering and fruit setting. The area should be sterilized or free from ground dwelling pests and other diseases. Continuous cropping should be avoided; crop rotation is still best to help nurture the land and also to prevent the occurrence of soil borne diseases.
1. Use quality hybrid seeds. Soak the seeds in clean water for 30 minutes and wrap them in a wet cloth or towel. Place it in an improvised or covered container which can keep the temperature within 24-29º C until the seeds sprout, 24- 28 hours is enough to germinate the seed. Sow it in seedling tray with 104 or 128 holes available in different sizes from Harbest Agri+Plas). Using commercially available soil mediums, place the media in the seedling tray first and water immediately. Make sure you put enough soil so that when you water them, the soil will not be depleted.
2. Insert 1 pre-germinated seed in each hole with the embryo downward and cover with thin layer of medium and water it again. If there is no nursery or greenhouse to protect it from strong wind and heavy rain, plastic or fine cover is needed to protect the seedlings.
3. For land preparation, plow and clean the planting area and make a flat bed on sandy soils and a raised bed in sandy loam or clay soils. Use a 1 m bed and a 0.5 m canal. The bed should be 15-20 cm high above the fertilized level. You can use silver-black plastic mulch to cover the prepared plots.
4. Fertilization per 20 linear meter bed. Use 2 sacks of organic matter (processed chicken dung or any commercially available organic fertilizers), 150 g boron, 4 kilos of complete fertilizer (NPK 14-14-14), 1 kg calcium nitrate, and 150 g magnesium.
- Practice drenching for additional support of fertilizers for growth boost and easy absorption of the plants. The above fertilizer is dissolved in 16 liters of water. Apply 150 ml of the solution per plant.
5. Irrigation and drainage. Enough moisture is necessary throughout the early period. Irrigate the plants 2-3 times a week to maintain plant vigor. It is best to withhold or reduce water when fruits reach the full size during ripening.
6. Honeydew requires pruning to improve fruit setting, fruit quality, and harvesting. Pick off the growing point of the main stem at the 4th true leaf stage. Select 3 good secondary branches then cut off the others. Cut off the tertiary branches within the 4th node of primary branches and save fruits from the 5th or 6th node.
7. For harvesting and handling: Determining index of maturity (60-70 DAT), notice some nets on the bottom part of the fruit, color of the rind is full and complete, not pale or light. A honeydew should also feel heavy for its size; the best time to harvest quality fruits for fresh market is before it reaches full maturity that is about 80% ripe, this method makes shelf life longer. They taste best in 2-3 days after harvest.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s July 2018 issue.