Cultivation of Muskmelon or Kharbooj (Cucumus Mela)
Cucumus Mela .L.
Kharbooj- Hindi, Kharbuj- Marathi.
Muskmelon is an important crop cultivated through India. It is used as desert fruit and also eaten alone. Very rarely it is used cooked vegetable in its green stage.
The muskmelon thrives best and develops the highest flavor in a hot dry climate. High temperature and sunshine produce melon high in sugar contents. Though sweetness and fine flavor are hereditary characteristics, yet they are greatly influenced by environmental condition. It is highly susceptible to frost; it is grown as summer crop.
Soil and its Preparation:
Muskmelon is mainly grown on sand and sandy – loam soils on river bed. But other type of soil is also favorable for its cultivation. The optimum soil PH is 6.0 to 6.7. The land is prepared thoroughly by repeated ploughing.
Sowing of Seeds:
a) Time of Sowing:
The seeds may be sown from November to March in the plains and April- May in the hills. The seeds are sown in November- December in west Bengal .Bihar and south India. Transplanting of about a week old seedlings may also be done.
b) Seed Rate:
The seed rate is 2 to 3 kg/ha.
c) Method of Sowing:
1. Shallow Pit Method:
In this method pits of 60 X 60 X 45 cm are dug at a distance of 1.5 to 2.5 m. each pit is filled with a mixture of soil and 4 to 5 kg of FYM in compost, 30 to 40 gm. Urea, 40 to 50 gm. Single phosphate and 80 to 100 gm of muriate of potash. After filling the pit circular basin are made and five to six seeds are sown per basin at 2 to 3 cm. deep and covered with fine soil, FYM or compost.
2. Deep Pit Method:
This method is followed in case of river bed cultivation. Circular pits of 60 to 75 cm. diameter and 1.0 to 1.5 m. depth are dug at a distance of 1.5 to 2.5 m distance both ways.
3. Ridge Method:
The seeds are sown on the side of raised beds.
4. Mound Method:
The seeds are sown on the mounds. The seed rate is 1.6 kg per acre. The normal spacing is row to row 300 cm and plant to plant 90cm. the germination percent and the storages life of seed can be improved by treating freshly extracted seeds with 2 % HCL or NAOH.
Apply 30 -50 cart loads FYM at the time of soil preparation 80 kg N, 40 kg P and K is recommended by PKV Akola,1/2 dose N, full dose of P and K should be applied at the time sowing. Remaining half nitrogen applied one month after transplanting.
Two or three hoeing may be done during the early stage of growth to keep down the weeds and to conserve soil moisture. Two or three plants are kept at on place in the hills or beds by thinning the extra plant.
Irrigation is given as and when it is necessary. Crops sown or river beds or not needs and irrigation.
Muskmelon fruit will be ready for picking in about 110 days depending upon variety and agro- climate. The stage of maturity is generally judged by the change is the external colour of fruit, softening of the rind and development of abscission layer. In muskmelon when fruit are nature slips out easily from vine. The stage at which the fruit are picked, also affects the quality of fruits, hence they should be picked in time.
The average yield is 100 to 150 quintal / ha.
Followings are the important varieties of muskmelon. Arka rajhans, Hara Madhu, Pusa Asaarbati, Arka Jest, Durgapura Madhu, Punjab sunahari, Lanow safed, Annamalai, Haribhari.