Crop Phenology for Irrigated Spring Cantaloupes (Cucumis melo L.)
AffiliationDepartment of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, University of Arizona
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AbstractField experiments were conducted in 2007 to evaluate a cantaloupe (Cucumis melo L.) plant development model as a function of heat units accumulated after planting (HUAP). Field experiments were conducted in 2007 in the Yuma Valley, Arizona (32° 42' N, 114° 42' W), about 150 feet (~ 32 m) elevation in four commercial cantaloupe fields managed by a cooperator-grower using four varieties. Plant measurements were made on regular 14-day intervals and the following growth stages were identified in relation to plant measurement data collection: pre-bloom, early fruit set, early netting, and physiological maturity (harvest). The model was evaluated by comparing the observed HUAP versus the predicted HUAP values using a repeated measures design. Mean differences within each sampling stage were separated using the Fishers’ protected least significance difference (LSD) test at P≤ 0.01. In addition, regression models were performed for all in-season data collected and the accuracy of the model was evaluated on the basis of the R² values with a specified level significance (α = 0.01). No statistical differences were found between the observed phenological data and the predicted values from the model throughout the study period. Also, the model presented an overall accuracy of 54 ± 37 HUAP (2 ± 1 day) in predicting cantaloupe-harvesting time. It can be concluded that the model can be used as a useful tool to assist cantaloupe growers in predicting and identifying critical stages of growth for irrigated spring cantaloupe crops in Arizona and the desert Southwest.