Watermelons not growing well.

stac5455August 2, 2011

This is my second year growing watermelons. This year I dug my holes 3 feet deep and added composted manure into the soil. I planted them 3 plants per hill over black landscape fabric. The seeds I bought from Lowes. Crimson Sweet and Carolina Cross. I have over a dozen melons growing now and all of them growing distorted and wont grow larger than 7 or 8 pounds. I have fertilized them 3 or 4 times so far and water them twice a week but they wont grow any larger. What am I doing wrong? I have a couple ideas, such as my source of seeds, maybe my soil needs sand and one plant per hill. Next year I am going to try getting my seeds from Willhite.

Thanks in advance

Stacy

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Stacy:

Distorted sounds possibly like inadequate pollination. I had a lot of that this year. I think it was too dry, like 1% humidities. Dryness isn't your problem but lack of bees could be.

Are your melons small and soft on one end? That's lack of pollination.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 5:00PM
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stac5455

They are all solid without any soft ends. I did alot of hand pollination too. I cut off the male flower so that i could get the most pollen on the female flower.

Stacy

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 5:13PM
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stac5455

Even the ones that have a normal shape wont grow any larger than about 5 lbs.

Stacy

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 5:22PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Stacy:

How big are the vines? At this point a three plant hill should be 12-15ft across. I've had them reach 20ft or more.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 5:55PM
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stac5455

The vines are about 8 feet long.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 6:27PM
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stac5455

Im trying to get the photo larger

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 6:39PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

For myself, I never put over 2 plants to a hill...preferably one. For myself, I would not grow Carolina Cross as it could be difficult to get quality melons from it. Landscape fabric might be cooling the soil...not good for watermelons. Also I would have added some booster fertilizer for watermelons.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 10:40PM
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stac5455

Thank you so much for all the help. Im looking forward to a better watermelon season next year providing the weather cooperates.

Stacy

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 8:22AM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Stacy,
Also I think that the 3 feet deep holes are a stretch in the wrong direction. I find that watermelon roots are mostly horizonal in the top few inches. The roots mirror the vines above them a lot.

I find that diseases tend to hit both watermelons and cantaloupes about the third year when raised in the same location.......fusarium wilt and mature vine decline. Wow! ....could I go on about this. Even plants raised in the vicinity can be affected. These maladies can be hit or miss somewhat depending on weather and disease pressure. Too wet soils seem to bring them on.

Last year I had several plants to have the mature decline. All in unison plants wilt in daytime heat and recover at night. This goes on for about 2 weeks until the leaves get kind of crusty and some of the vinelets [side shoots] die. Half sized up melons are no longer fed so the crop on affected melons are smaller and under developed in flavor, sweetness, and perhaps texture. Still, last year I had some super watermelons, but no really good cantaloupes.
This year nearly all the plants were affected in the gardens.
Last year I planted a couple watermelons in a fence row away from my diseased patches. It was very wet and soggy there for a while and one plant died. Finally the other survivor took off. Wow! What an undiseased soil can do. I picked off 20 small fruits and still wound up with 11 that weighed 234 pounds off that one plant. Late developing plants often want to set one gazillions of babies...once I had 43 try to set on on a late comer-on!

This year I set out 3 watermelons in the same fence row a bit up grade from last year. I watered them a time or two early on and had not checked on them for a little more than a month. In the meantime it had gotten severely dry here with only 1.25 inches of rain in a month and very hot. I was pleasantly surprised to find them exploded into growth and they have set on 7 fruits. I picked off one mishappen one. The larger fruit is nearing 30 pounds now and likely still growing. MY WHOLE POINT HERE IS TO MAKE THE POINT OF HOW FERTILE DISEASE FREE SOIL CAN MAKE SUCH A DIFFERENCE>

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 8:47AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

Also I would have added some booster fertilizer for watermelons.

Can you explain this?

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 8:58AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I've had great luck growing melons on black plastic and black landscape fabric. I'm surprised my friend Wayne would say otherwise.

Here's a picture of this years patch.

Stacy's melons look like they need more nitrogen and possibly more water. They need lots of leaves like mine to grow large fruit.

I need to apply nitrogen about once a month on mine to keep them growing. My soil leaches out nitrogen very easily. Also I want fruit from June to October. They need to keep growing to do that.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 12:02PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

fruitnut,

I have used some IRT100 opaque plastic to good advantage, but decided that landscape fabric even though black would cool the soil up north here. You likely don't need to worry as much about early season soil heating.

Also, I surely am not the only one getting diseases in the soil. Yes, melons have been raised around here for a long time. An expert from Purdue who works with melon growers in Indiana said that fumigation lowers the disease pressure enough that growers can usually raise a good crop. I would not want to poison the soil like that and probably would not be able to get the chemicals nor be able to apply them even if I wanted to.
When I raised some watermelons up in Brookston a few times in my daughter's back yard, they grew like gangbusters where the soil didn't have the disease pressure..I used some IRT100 there.

t-bird,

By booster fertilizer I mean adding both organic and chemical ones at planting time and adding some liquid a time or 2 later........Like Plant Tone and 12-12-12. This is in addition to some compost or equivulant.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 2:47PM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

Thanks Wayne.....

Planted my watermelon in 1/2 composed horse manure and 1/2 soil.....I have maybe half a dozen marbles, lol! But they are coming along...

Will give them a little boost this weekend....

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 4:35PM
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charleslou23

so is crimson sweet self fertile?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2012 at 10:41PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

All the watermelon I know of are self fertile except for the seedless triploids. But they all need bees to transfer the pollen from the male flowers to the female. So Crimson Sweet can be grown as the only watermelon but it still needs bees.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2012 at 12:11PM
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charleslou23

just bought some crimson sweet and planted in the ground and also some sugar baby grow in the pot, and after a month no flower at all for the CS and SB got 1/2 dozen fruit set already....
what gives???

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 3:28PM
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