Growing Muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.) under Low-input System in Arid trans-Himalayan Ladakh, India
Feasibility of growing muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.), a warm season crop, was studied under a low-input cultivation system in open field condition in high altitude (elevation 3344 m) trans-Himalayan Ladakh region. The marketable yield of five cultivars in different treatments varied from 5.4±0.4 t.ha-1 to 18.8±1.7 t.ha-1 and 4.0±0.2 t.ha-1 to 15.8±1.0 t.ha-1 in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Treatment of black polyethylene mulch (BPM) increased marketable yield by 25 per cent to 155 per cent depending on year and cultivar. The marketable yield of the best performing cultivar (Pusa Madhuras) under BPM was 17.3 t.ha-1, which suggested that muskmelon can successfully be grown in open field condition in trans-Himalaya. The fruit become ready for harvest in mid-August. Number of fruit per plant ranged from 2.3 to 6.3, and TSS ranged from 8.9 to 14.1 °Brix depending on cultivar. Temperature 10 cm beneath the BPM was 2.9±0.4 ºC higher than in bare soil. BPM reduced 74 per cent weed and save 77 per cent time in manual weeding.
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