variable, ranging from creamy yellow pink to orange reds. The fruit wall (rind) thickness is between 1–4 cm of white inner flesh between hard outer skin and softer pulpy interior. Watermelon varieties vary in maturity days between 75–120 days. The average size is about 40 lb., however, the so-called “ice box” cultivars weigh only about 20–25 lb. Seedless melons are triploids produced by the crossing of 4n × 2n. Major producing states for fresh market watermelons are Texas, Georgia, Florida, California, and North Carolina, in this order of descending importance. The crop is frost intolerant. Production areas must have between 85–150 frost-free days and a high daytime temperature of 25–33C° (77–95F°), and nighttime temperature of 17–25C° (62–77F°). Soil pH of 6.0–6.8 is desirable for watermelons. Watermelon is monoecious. Proper fruiting is aided by bees as pollination agents. The crop is grown on raised beds in the western United States and in the East. The beds are spaced 80 inches from center to center. Closer spacing results in smaller fruits. For premium yield, watermelon is grown with irrigation and mulching. The crop is established primarily by direct seeding. However, because of poor germination, seedless melons are transplanted. The crop is moderately fertilized with nitrogen mainly, but with some phosphorus and potassium as the soil test may reveal. Excessive nitrogen produces vegetative growth and delayed reproductive growth that can lead to reduced fruit setting. The fruits are mature when the ground spot changes color from white to pale yellow. The general color of the rind also changes from glossy to dull green. Another sign of maturity is when the tendril at the same node as the fruit dies. Unlike muskmelon, watermelons do not slip or detach from the stalk when mature and ripe. They have to be cut by hand. The sugar content of the fruit at maturity ranges between 9–13 percent. Shelf life is 10–14 days, if not refrigerated. Diseases and insects common to watermelon production include anthracnose, fusarium, downy mildew, pickleworm, rindworm, and corn seed maggot. 20.10.4 PUMPKIN (CUCURBITA PEPO) Pumpkin or squash? Just like muskmelon or cantaloupe, the distinction between pumpkin and squash is debatable. Some consider C. pepo as true pumpkins, while all C. maxima are considered as squash. Pumpkin is one of the most visible festive fruits in the United States, being associated with Halloween as a fresh fruit, and other occasions in which pies are served. It has a distinct appearance and bright orange color when ripe. The flesh of pumpkin is coarse and has a strong flavor. It is used as livestock feed and of course as pumpkin pie. Squash, winter and summer species, have fine-grained flesh that has a mild flavor and is baked or cooked for food for humans. Summer squash is used as an immature fruit and can be also be fried. Summer squash is early maturing, usually attaining maturity in 45–60 days. Winter squash and pumpkin mature in 80–120 days. Pumpkin cultivars are classified according to use as follows: 1. Mini pumpkins. very small size and used for desktop decoration; it has a flattened shape and light orange color. 2. Baby pumpkin. these are also used for desktop decoration; it is small sized and dark orange in color. 3. Pie pumpkin. this weighs 5–10 lbs and has a near global shape; it is used for decoration and cooking. 4. Multipurpose. it has naked seeds that are edible; the flesh is used for cooking while the rind is carved. 5. Carving pumpkin. this is also called a Jack-o-lantern pumpkin and weighs between 15–25 lbs and has variable shapes. 6. Exhibition pumpkin. this is enormous in size, weighing more than 100 lbs; this C. maxima species has a smooth surface and pale orange color. 20.10 Growing Cucurbits 637
Winter squash and pumpkins are grown mainly in the northern United States, the key states being Illinois, New Jersey, California, Indiana, New York, Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Winter and summer squash and pumpkins are monoecious species and mostly day neutral. Summer squash production is more widely distributed than winter squash. There are bush and vining cultivars. Pumpkins and squash are mostly direct seeded. Spacing is 6–8 feet by 6–8 feet, wider spacing promoting larger fruits. Fruits grow best in the northern United States where day length is longer for extended photosynthesis. To reduce the mishapening of the fruit, specifically flattening of one side, some growers periodically turn the fruits. Summer squash is harvested prematurely when seeds are just beginning to develop and fruit shows a glossy outer appearance. Where smaller fruits are preferred, they are harvested just after the blossom has abscised. These premature fruits tend to shrivel or are easily bruised and hence are sometimes wrapped in plastic upon harvesting. Fresh fruits should be sold within 7–10 days before fruit quality starts to deteriorate. If winter squash and pumpkins are to be stored for longer times, they should be harvested when the rind has hardened. Also, curing at 75°F and 80 percent relative humidity for 3–5 days allows wounds to heal to prevent rot in storage. Key diseases of pumpkins are viruses and powdery mildew. Others are bacterial leaf spot, angular leaf spot, and phytophthora blight. 638 Chapter 20 Growing Vegetables Outdoors 20.11 TOMATO (LYCOPERSICON ESCULENTUM) Tomato is a warm-season perennial that is cultivated as an annual in temperate regions. This yellow-flowered plant bears berries of various sizes and shape, according to cultivars. Its wild relative is the L. pimpinellifolium (wild or currant tomato) from which Fusarium resistance is obtained for breeding modern cultivars. Mature fruits may ripen to red or remain green. Cherry tomato (L. esculentum var cerasiforme) is roundish in shape, while pear tomato (L. esculentum var pyriforme) is pear shaped. Green-fruited species include L. peruvianam and L. chilense. They have been sources of genes for important disease such as root-knot nematodes, tobacco mosaic virus, and potato virus Y. Green tomato is also high in calcium. Other less common colors are white, orange, and yellow. Tomato cultivars vary widely in plant growth habit, some being determinate, semideterminate, or indeterminate. The first two cultivar types are cultivated as freestanding without staking. Leaf type variation in tomato is also vast, including potato and fernlike leaves. Some cultivars are early-maturing, reaching harvest stage in 50–60 days. Some cultivars are later-maturing, requiring 80–90 days to attain maturity. Fruit set is optimal when temperatures range between 55–85°F. Most commercial cultivars have been bred to develop full and uniform color, without the “green shoulder” pattern (top of fruit remains green) trait. Apart from color variation, tomato cultivars come in varying sizes, some being large (over 150 g per fruit), while others are small (55–110 g per fruit) or cherry shaped (20–25 g). Fruits are more flavorful when harvested vine-ripened. Traits of key importance that have received significant attention from plant breeders include blossom end closure (a source of disease infection), high solids (for good canning quality), crack resistance, firmness of flesh (to reduce bruising during mechanical harvesting and transportation), reduced fibrous core, and lack of pedicel attachment to the fruit (to reduce bruising during harvesting). Tomato is susceptible to several nonpathogenic fruit disorders, some of which are attributed to nutritional problems. Calcium deficiency resulting from drought stress causes a condition called blossom end rot of the fruit, while potassium deficiency causes blotchy or uneven ripening. Potassium deficiency can also cause a condition called gray wall, whereby the pericarp turns gray and does not develop the red color in red tomato cultivars.
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