My cantaloupes are producing very few flowers and no fruit.

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Hello everyone!! This year I am growing burpee hybrid and hales best cantaloupes in my garden here in fredericksburg, virginia. The problem is that they are only producing a few flowers but there is no new fruit growing. For the past couple of weeks it has been very hot in my area, with temperatures ranging from the low to upper 90s and we have not had alot of rain. I was on vacation in OBX, NC, from July 23 through July 29 and I had my stepdad water my garden for me. He did not do a very good job with the watering because all of my cucumber and cantaloupe plants were dried up and some of the leaves were turning brown and yellow. I soaked my cantaloupe plants using running water from a hose for one hour on July 29 and on July 30 because it had been in the mid 90s both days. Is this lack of flower and fruit production for my cantaloupes caused by the high temperatures that we have been having over the last few weeks? I talked to someone at Roxbury Mills Farm and Garden Center here in Fredericksburg, VA, and they told me that the problem was caused by a lack of calcium in the soil. Does anyone know of any products that I can use to increase the amount of calcium in my soil? Also, does anyone know of a good fertilizer that I can use that will jumpstart my cucumber and cantaloupe plants and increase the production of flowers and fruit in those plants? Any advice on these issues will be greatly appreciated. This is my first year growing cantaloupes so I am still learning how to grow them effectively. Thank you very much.
---Conor Waters

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

cwgarden11 - I'm not a melon growing expert, but I had the opposite problem this year - waaaay too many melons!

I'm in a different zone than you, so you will have to adjust accordingly:

Sowed "Tasty Bites" seeds from Johnny's indoors under lights, April 1st, picked first melon June 7th. The crop was all done by mid July.

For fertilizer: I purchase Territorial Seed's Complete fertilizer:

http://www.territorialseed.com/product/1639/22

To this I added , greensand, seabird guano, crab meal, mycorrhizae, and a little lime.

Fertilizer mixture was dug in same day as transplants were planted. Then I top dressed with more fertilizer mix every two weeks until the end of June.

I watered every three days (or so) if it didn't rain, being careful not to get water on the blossoms.

This is the first year I've had this much success growing melons! It's been real hot here, too.

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Thanks for the information HoneybeeNC. Why did u avoid getting water on the flowers? Is the Territorial Seed Complete Fertilizer sold at nurseries?

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Ok. I know somebody out there has to know some information about the problems that I am having with my cantaloupes. I am new to growing cantaloupes and I need all the help I can get. Please respond with any advice or information that may help me solve these problems.
--Conor Waters

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

cwgarden11 - if you get water on the flowers, the pollen gets wet. It has to stay dry to be viable.

No, you have to order Territorial's fertilizer directly from them. There are other organic fertilizers available - another I like is Espoma. Stores such as Lowe's carries it.

Fredericksburg, VA(Zone 7a)

Thanks for the good information honeybeenc. How is that true about not getting the flowers wet even if they get wet when it rains? Is Espoma fertilizer really expensive? I think I am going to use miracle gro plant food and jacks classic plant food to give my plants a boost and maybe get them to rebound from not being watered really well when I was on my vacation. Thanks again. If anyone else has any information on problems that I have been having concerning my cantaloupes not producing many flowers or fruit, please reply to this message.
Conor

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

cwgarden11 - when it rains your blossoms do get wet. That day's female flowers do not set fruit - unless it rains in the afternoon!

In other words, if it's a nice warm, dry morning and the bees ar buzzing around; your melons will set fruit, providing you have both male and female blossoms open, and you don't get them wet with your hose.

Swansea, SC(Zone 8b)

I'm down in the southeast below you. Cantaloupes/melons like full sun. The trick is putting on the mulch around the plant stem. Miracle grow fertilizer will work to make leaves big and green, but I don't think it will necessarily give you more blooms. Because it is so hot out, you should water every morning early and late afternoon. Irrigation is best, but hand held sprayer is good too. I use fish emulsion that I mix in a bucket of water and distribute directly to the plant stem/root with a soda bottle I cut the base off of, leaving the screw on cap. It works good for me. I do this every two weeks or so. So far, I have had good luck with 4 cantaloupes growing on my vines in poor soil, in direct sun. I have put a board each under each melon to keep it off the ground and turn it every so often so the bottom will not rot.
Any organic fertilizer for fruits and vegetables will work with cantaloupes; Lowe's usually carries a good selection, including the fish emulsion. If you don't get enough rain, it is important to water regularly.
I cannot depend on my neighbors to water on time or for the right amount of time, so I suggest investing in a good timer and making sure it will work for the adjusted time amount before your next vacation.
Hope this helps. Don't forget to mulch!

Clayton, NC(Zone 7a)

For your problem with not getting enough fruit, have you tried artificially pollinating the plants? You would go outside in late morning, when the pollen is dry and at its maximum, and touch your finger or a thin stick to one of the male flowers so that some pollen comes off on your finger, then touch the pollen to the inside of the female flower. You can tell the females cause they have a bulbous portion where the stem and flower meet. One male can do several females (hmmm...I hope noone think this post is getting X rated, lol). Just be VERY GENTLE in pollinating so that you don't knock off the flower.

I know the artificial pollination works, cause I used it for melons & squash when I grew them in greenhouse I used to have. It's easier to do with squash plants because they have bigger flowers, but it works for melon.

One of the ways I've helped melons to say off the ground was to make a little sling out of material that stretches easily...socks, cut off sections of old pantyhose, etc. One end goes on something strong enough to hold their weight, like a portion of trellis or whatever.

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