Mexican researchers pinpoint best melon growing conditions

September 26 , 2012

Mexico's cantaloupe melons thrive best in hot but not too humid climes and in rich organic soil, according to research by the National Institute for Forestry, Agriculture and Livestock (INIFAP).

Researchers found the ideal temperature for good fruit development varied from 18-30°C (64-86°F), with highs of 32°C (90°F) and minimum of 10°C (50°F).

The study also established a maximum of 3,500m (11,482ft) in altitude.

The period from mid-March to mid-April was identified as the best time to grow the fruit in the Comarca Lagunera region, while the second half of March and early April was better for the San Pedro, Coahuila, Tlahualilo and Durango municipalities.

However, Ceballos town in Durango typically plants seeds much later from May to June, which INIFAP has discovered is not ideal.

Cantaloupe melons grow best in soil rich in organic matter which is well-drained with good aeration and a pH range of six to seven points.

INIFAP specialists have prepared a methodology for preparing the ground, the best time to grow the crop, planting methods and density, irrigation, fertilization, disease and pest control.

Comarca Lagunera is the country's main melon producing area, accounting for 20% of the country's land devoted to growing the crop.

In 2011, melon production in Coahuila and Durango reached about 180,737 metric tons (MT).

Other significant production areas include: Guerrero with 97,508MT, Michoacán at 95,000MT and Sonora, 66,366MT with Colima, Oaxaca and Nayarit together producing more than 83,000MT.

Agrifood and Fisheries Service (SIAP) statistics show melon hectarage of 21,697 in 2011 with a production of 564,365MT. The country is the fifth-largest melon exporter in the world shipping 152,000MT at a value of US$42 million shipped to the U.S. and Asia.

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