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Cantaloupe plant care
Cantaloupe plant care is the process of taking care of cantaloupes. There are several factors involved in proper care of cantaloupes.
Requirements for cantaloupe production
The key to a high yield of cantaloupes is large mature fruit, lots of water and a good pollinating environment. The following are main requirements for a healthy crop of cantaloupes:
Good fruit size, not too small and not too large
Fruit at an early stage of maturity
Well balanced fruit shape
More than one crop a year.
Maximum water supply
Effective pollinating by bees.
Optimum soil conditions.
Minimal disease and insect pressure.
Selecting, developing, and using a site for a cantaloupe crop
It is best to choose a site in the sun. Cantaloupes should be planted at least two weeks before any frost occurs. Soil type should be a well-drained, light soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0. Pests such as small white fly and squash bugs, cankerworm and the vine borers can cause damage to the cantaloupe crop. Pest control measures need to be in place to prevent these pests from causing damage to the cantaloupe crop. Pollinating bees need to be present in abundance during bloom. The site should be well drained, and the soil should be free of excessive moisture.
A mulch of leaves or straw is an excellent way to conserve soil moisture. The mulch will prevent frost and will help prevent weeds from sprouting. The entire area should be well fertilized prior to planting. A 4-inch (10cm) thick layer of garden soil with about an inch (3cm) of water from a hose, is recommended. The seeds can be planted two weeks before the first frost.
Choosing and raising the plants
Cantaloupe vines are most productive when planted close to the fruit in two rows 3 to 4 feet (90–1.2m) apart. The plants should be spaced at least 2 to 3 inches (5–8cm) apart. The distance between the rows should be 8 to 10 inches (20–25cm). If the rows are placed more closely, some of the seeds in the row will be watered by the rain instead of being dried out.
A fertile, well-drained, light soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.0 is necessary to raise cantaloupes. The initial plant spacing of 3 to 4 feet (90 to 1.2m) is desirable to allow for full flower production before thinning to 18 to 24 inches (45–61cm).
The cantaloupes should be given ample space to bloom. Bees will be attracted to flowers for pollination, and natural bee hives can be built in or near to the crop. Each queen bee will need about 30,000 worker bees to pollinate her flowers.
Cantaloupes require two visits from bees to pollinate the blossoms, unless an artificial pollination system is used. Unless the harvest is quite small, all bees must be removed from the area for a period of time between when the fruit ripens and when it is picked. In a modern pollination system, workers who remove honey bees from the blossoms also remove the honey bees. Honey bees are also used to pollinate winter squash, pumpkin, and melon flowers.
Picking the fruit
The harvest should begin early in the morning, and the fruit should be picked when the fruit color reaches full yellow, and is ready for harvesting. Cantaloupe crop is harvested from the field in order to make the fruit of highest quality. The fruit are picked by hand and are taken to a handling facility where they are packed in wooden boxes.
Harvest starts on the 3rd or 4th week of the season and continues through late August and early September. Most cantaloupe is harvested by machine and has a single deep red-purple color. Machine harvesting often requires more physical labor than manual picking.
Harvest machines for cantaloupe harvesting typically have a shallow slope to allow the fruit to roll off the machine. Most of the cantsaloupe harvested by hand is also red-purple and is easily sorted at harvest, because they are all within a fairly narrow size range, around 4 inches (10 ,cm). The harvested cantaloupe are usually packed in wooden crates and shipped by truck.
For cantaloupe storage, the rind should be hard, dry, and free of blemishes. Ideally, the cantaloupe should be kept cool and be kept with some sort of shading. Storage is often needed due to the hot summer conditions of cantaloupe harvesting. High temperatures combined with extended exposure to sunlight can