Will melons ripen with damaged stems?

molanic(Zone 5 IL)August 4, 2012

This year I am growing two types of melon: tasty bites and minnesota midget. The minnesota midget are not so midget this year however. I had saved seeds from them previously and although they are larger than previous years, they still look like muskmelon. I have harvested two of the tasty bites when they "slipped" from the vine and they tasted pretty ripe.

I have one minnesota midget that is looking pretty ripe based on color, but is still not "slipping" at all. The stem of the melon has damage that I am thinking is from cucumber beetles. It looks like brown rough scar tissue covering the stem, but the stem has not broken down or detached and is still holding the melon firm. Quite a few of the melon stems look like this too, but none of the melons have rotted or anything. Is this like girdling a tree, and the melons are not actually getting anything from the plant anymore? Or does it just slow down growth and ripening of the melon? Or is it just cosmetic as long as the melons are still attached and not rotting.

I have found some cucumber beetles on the plants, but I wouldn't call it an infestation. Some vines are wilting, but it may be from the extreme heat and dryness as well. I tried the test of cutting some of the vines to check for "stickiness" from bacterial wilt and it seemed fine to me.

Any advice would be appreciated.

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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

Sounds like you're fine. If the MM's look orangish, I would say they are close to ripe. I like to give them a little squeeze with my thumb on the bottom of the melon, and if there's a little "give," it's probably ripe.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 12:37PM
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The sticky test for bacterial wilt isn't always definitive. I couldn't figure out last month what was wrong with one melon vine because nothing showed up in the sticky test and there were almost no beetles present. But bacterial wilt is what it turned out to be, a slow moving case. I didn't pull the whole vine and let the melons ripen. They were fine.

I expect your midgets may have crossed with other melons if you've been saving the seed for a couple of years.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 12:53PM
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molanic(Zone 5 IL)

Thank you both for the great info. Some of the melons did finally slip and seemed to be pretty ripe, even though the vines are still going downhill.

A couple of the melons had a much thicker whitish area near the rind that was incredibly bitter. The very orange centers were very sweet and ripe but if I got even a tiny bit of that lighter area near the rind in my mouth I had to spit it out and rinse my mouth out with water. It was that bad, and had an almost chemical taste to it.

The strange thing about the minnesota midget melons was that I had only saved seeds from it once and used those same seeds to grow it last year, and the melons were the proper size. I think I had only saved the seed from a single melon too, but it is possible I saved seeds from more than one and some may have crossed with something else.

Thanks again for the help.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 9:07PM
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