How to pick a ripe melon
Telling when a melon is ready to be harvested can be a challenge, or it may be quite easy. It all depends on the type of melon. Let’s start with the easy one.
Muskmelons are one of those crops that tell you when they are ready to be picked. This can help you not only harvest melons at the correct time but also choose good melons when shopping. As a melon ripens, a layer of cells around the stem softens so the melon detaches easily from the vine. This is called “slipping” and will leave a dish-shaped scar at the point of stem attachment.
When harvesting melons, put a little pressure where the vine attaches to the fruit. If ripe, it will release or “slip.” When choosing a melon from those that have already been harvested, look for a clean, dish-shaped scar. Also, ripe melons have a pleasant, musky aroma if the melons are at room temperature. Watermelons can be more difficult and growers often use several techniques to tell when to harvest.
1. Look for the tendril that attaches at the same point as the melon to dry and turn brown. On some varieties this will need to be completely dried before the watermelon is ripe. On others it will only need to be in the process of turning brown.
2. The surface of a ripening melon develops a surface roughness (sometimes called “sugar bumps”) near the base of the fruit.
3. Ripe watermelons normally develop a yellow color on the “ground spot” when ripe.
This is the area of the melon that contacts the ground. Honeydew melons are the most difficult to tell when they are ripe because they do not “slip” like muskmelons. Actually, there is one variety that does slip called Earlidew, but it is the exception to the rule.
Ripe honeydew melons become soft on the flower end of the fruit. The “flower end” is the end opposite where the stem attaches. Also, honeydews should change to a light or yellowish color when ripe, but this varies with variety.
Watering fruit trees during hot summers
When temperatures exceed 90 degrees F, fruit plants lose water quickly. When this happens, moisture is withdrawn from the fruit to supply the tree. Stress from high temperatures, along with a moisture deficit in the root environment, may cause fruit to drop or fail to increase in size. The stress may also reduce the development of fruit buds for next year's fruit crop.
If you have fruit plants such as trees, vines, canes, and such, check soil moisture at the roots. Insert a spade or shovel or a pointed metal or wood probe -- a long screwdriver works well for this. Shove these into the soil about 8-12 inches. If the soil is hard, dry, and difficult to penetrate, the moisture level is very low, and plants should be irrigated to prevent drooping and promote fruit enlarging.
Page 2 of 4 - Water can be added to the soil using sprinklers, soaker hose, drip irrigation, or even a small trickle of water running from the hose for a few hours. The amount of time you irrigate should depend upon the size of plants and the volume of water you are applying.
Add enough moisture so you can easily penetrate the soil in the root area of the plant with a metal rod, wooden dowel or other probe. When hot, dry weather continues, continue to check soil moisture at least once a week.
Strawberries have a shallow root system and may need to be watered more often – maybe twice a week during extreme weather. Also, newly planted fruit trees sited on sandy soils may also need water twice a week.
Bearded irises are well adapted to Kansas and multiply quickly. After several years, the centers of the clumps tend to lose vigor, and flowering occurs toward the outside.
Dividing iris every three to five years will help rejuvenate them and increase flowering. Iris may be divided from late July through August, but late July through early August is ideal. Because iris clumps are fairly shallow, it is easy to dig up the entire clump. The root system of the plant consists of thick rhizomes and smaller feeder roots. Use a sharp knife to cut the rhizomes apart so each division consists of a fan of leaves and a section of rhizome.
The best divisions are made from a double fan that consists of two small rhizomes attached to a larger one, which forms a Y-shaped division. Each of these small rhizomes has a fan of leaves. The rhizomes that do not split produce single fans. The double fans are preferred because they produce more flowers the first year after planting. Single fans take a year to build up strength. Rhizomes that show signs of damage due to iris borers or soft rot may be discarded, but you may want to physically remove borers from rhizomes and replant if the damage is not severe.
It is possible to treat mild cases of soft rot by scraping out the affected tissue, allowing it to dry in the sun and dipping it in a 10 percent solution of household bleach. Make the bleach solution by mixing one-part bleach with nine parts water. Rinse the treated rhizomes with water and allow them to dry before replanting.
Cut the leaves back by two-thirds before replanting. Prepare the soil by removing weeds and fertilizing. Fertilize according to soil test recommendations or by applying a complete fertilizer, such as a 10-10-10, at the rate of 1 pound per 100 square feet. Mix the fertilizer into the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Be wary of using a complete fertilizer in areas that have been fertilized heavily in the past.
Page 3 of 4 - A growing number of soil tests show phosphorus levels that are high enough to interfere with the uptake of other nutrients. In such cases, use a fertilizer that has a much higher first number (nitrogen) than second (phosphorus).
Green June beetle
These large beetles feed on sweet corn, blackberries, and peaches. They look much like the common May beetle, or June bug, but have a dull, velvety green color. The underside is more of an iridescent green.
These beetles have poor navigational skills and seem to fly until they hit something. They also make a buzzing sound somewhat like a bumblebee. Unfortunately, they are also about the size of a bumblebee and so cause concern for many gardeners even though they cannot harm people.
As noted above, they may damage crops. A number of general use insecticides, including malathion, may be used to discourage feeding. Malathion has a one-day waiting period.
Blister beetles are irritating insects
We have received numerous inquiries associated with blister beetles feeding on plants. In fact, in some cases, plants are literally covered with blister beetle adults.
Blister beetles are large, slender beetles that vary in color from orange, gray, to black. The thorax (middle portion of insect between the head and abdomen) is typically narrower than the head and wing covers.
Adults are 3/8- 11/16 inches (9- 18 mm) in length and are very good fliers. Blister beetles feed primarily on alfalfa, but may also feed on the leaves and flowers of a wide-variety of plant types and weeds including certain annuals, perennials, soybean, pigweed, goathead, and several species may be found in abundant numbers feeding on goldenrod (Solidago spp.) flowers in the fall.
Only adults damage plants as a result of their chewing leaves and/or flowers. The larvae are actually predators of grasshopper egg pods. Adult females deposit eggs during the summer in crevices or depressions in the soil. These eggs hatch in the fall into larvae that search for grasshopper eggs. There is generally one generation per year.
Blister beetles contain cantharidin in their hemolymph or blood, which is a highly toxic compound when ingested by horses or other livestock as a result of feeding on alfalfa. The degree of harmful effects depends on the number of beetles consumed by animals. Canthardin can be irritating and cause blisters at high concentrations.
It is recommended to wear gloves when handling any blister beetles. Only blister beetle males produce cantharidin, which is stored in the body until mating has occurred. Females may obtain the compound after mating. Management of blister beetles involves either handing-picking (again, be sure to wear gloves) or applying insecticides.
There are only a few insecticides that may be used or are registered for use against blister beetles including malathion. Be sure to read the label of any insecticide to determine if blister beetles are listed. Furthermore, multiple applications may be required because blister beetle adults can continue to immigrate into an area from nearby field or weedy locations.
Page 4 of 4 -