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2022 Midwest Vegetable Guide

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Cucurbit Crops – Horticulture 120 Midwest Veg Guide 2022 Cucurbit Crops – Horticulture Major update by Ben Phillips, Liz Maynard – Oct 2020 Reviewed by Liz Maynard – Aug 2021 Crop Description Cucumber Several types of cucumbers are grown in the Midwest, all of which are the species Cucumis sativus. Fresh market slicing cucumbers have thick, dark skin and a few large spines. They are commonly grown in the field with no support. European greenhouse cucumbers are long with thin skin, no spines, no seeds, and are grown on trellises in greenhouses. Beit alpha cucumber types are shorter but also have thin skin with no spines and may be grown in the field or in protected structures. Pickling cucumbers are short with thin skins and large spines. They are adapted for field production. Pickling cucumbers can also be marketed for fresh use. Gynoecious cucumber varieties produce mainly female flowers and, unless they are also parthenocarpic, require a pollenizer variety to supply pollen for good fruit set. Pollenizers are usually included when you buy gyneocious seed. Parthenocarpic varieties will set fruit without pollination and no seeds will develop. Parthenocarpic varieties produce seeds if they get pollinated. Melon The most commonly cultivated melon is the netted skin cantaloupe, also known as a muskmelon (Cucumis melo subsp. melo). Cantaloupes grown in the Midwest are primarily eastern types. Typical varieties include Athena and Aphrodite. Melons are warm-season crops that achieve prime quality when grown under warm, sunny conditions. Cool, cloudy weather results in melons with inferior quality. Melons perform best on sandy and sandy loam soils. Production on plastic mulch and light soils produces an early crop that commands a premium price. Melon types with distinctive fruit attributes are referred to as specialty melons. These melons with unique fruit characteristics attract consumers at local food markets. Common specialty melons fall into two major groups of Cucumis melo subsp. melo: the netted melons (Cantalupensis Group), including ananas, Charentais, galia, and Persian types; and the smooth-skinned melons (Inodorus Group), including canary, Crenshaw, and honeydew types. Asian melon types are in the Makuwa Group of Cucumis melo subsp. agrestis. Some specialty melon skins tend to crack with excessive water (such as ananas, Charentais, and galias). Greenhouse or high tunnel environments are more suitable for growing these melons in the Midwest. Note that there is disagreement among horticulturalists and scientists about the best way to categorize the many kinds of melons into groups, so other publications may use different group names. Pumpkin and Winter Squash Jack-o-lantern pumpkins grown for ornamental display and carving come from two species, Cucurbita pepo, and C. maxima. This market calls for a fruit up to 30 pounds. For giant pumpkins, the C. maxima varieties such as Atlantic Giant or Prize Winner are used. Varieties with hull-less or "naked" seed are favored as a source of seeds for eating. Many specialty pumpkins are also edible winter squash, such as fairytale and Cinderella pumpkins. Most of the "pie" pumpkins sold to consumers are used for decorating, but some varieties are still used for home baking. Pumpkins that are processed into pie filling and other products are normally grown under contract to processors, and the varieties are more like winter squash than jack-o-lantern pumpkins. Common winter squash types include C. pepo types (acorn, delicata, and spaghetti), C. maxima types (buttercup, hubbard, kuri, and kabocha), and C. moschata types (butternut). Some varieties have a bush growth habit, instead of producing long vines. Summer Squash Common summer squash types are C. pepo fruit, including zucchini, yellow straightneck and yellow crookneck. Many specialty types also perform well, including golden zucchini, Middle-Eastern types, patty pan, and cocozelle. Most varieties have a bush growth habit. Watermelon Watermelons (Citrullus lanatus) are either seedless (triploid) or seeded (diploid). Seedless watermelons produce fruit that has few if any true seeds. For seedless watermelons to set fruit, growers must plant diploid watermelons (either non- edible pollenizer plants or seeded watermelons) near the triploid plants. Typically there is one pollenizer plant for every two to four seedless plants in the row, or one row of seeded watermelons for every two to four rows of seedless watermelons. Watermelons produce a wide range of fruit sizes. Seeded watermelons generally have larger fruit (more than 20 pounds) than seedless types. Royal Sweet is a widely grown seeded watermelon variety that produces oblong melons that weigh 20 to 24 pounds. Seedless watermelons typically are more than 12 pounds. They are sold in cardboard bins in quantities of 60, 45, 36 or 30. Excursion is a variety that produces relatively large fruit that are primarily 36-count. Wayfarer is a variety that produces relatively smaller fruit that are mainly 60-count. Mini or personal-size watermelons are less than 10 pounds and include varieties such as Extazy and Ocelott. Watermelons differ in rind patterns and fruit shapes. Most watermelons have striped patterns on a dark or light green background. However, some varieties (Sweet Gem and

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