Growing Cantaloupes (Athena)

The Athena is disease tolerant and shippable. It has medium-sized fruits that average around 4 pounds. It is a well-netted, sutureless, Eastern type.
The Athena is oval-round with a characteristic subtle taper at the stem end. Ripe melons seldom crack and have a tough rind. Good shelf life even when harvested ripe. Widely adapted. Thick, sweet, orange flesh. Resistant to fusarium races 0, 1, & 2 and powdery mildew.
The Athena F1 is an annual plant. It will not tolerate any cold weather.
Days to Maturity: 79
CULTURE: The Athena likes southern exposure and sweet, light, well-drained soil. Good soil moisture is important in early stages of growth and during pollination when fruits are setting.
After this point do not water unless the soil is very dry and leaves begin to show signs of wilting in mid-day. Over watering will have an effect of the taste of the cantaloupe.
TRANSPLANTING: Sow indoors in 2-3\” pots or cell-type containers in late April or one month (no sooner!) before transplanting outdoors when the weather is frost-free, warm, and settled.
Plant 3 seeds per cell, about 1/4\” deep.
Keep temperature 80-90°F until germination. Handle young plants carefully and never let the soil dry out. Grow seedlings at 75°F.
Reduce water and temperature for a week before transplanting to harden seedlings. After frost, transplant 2-3\’ apart in rows 6\’ apart or thin to 1 plant/pot or cell with scissors and transplant 18\” apart.
Even hardened melon seedlings are tender! Do not disturb roots when transplanting, and water thoroughly.

Direct Seeding

Sow June 1, or 1-2 weeks after last frost when soil is warm, above 70°F, 3 seeds every 18\”, 1/2\” deep, thinning to 1 plant/spot.

Row Covers

Since melons like consistently warm conditions, plastic mulch and row covers will make for an earlier crop and better yield, especially in the North. Remove covers when plants have female flowers (tiny fruit at base of blossom).

Diseases

When Growing Cantaloupes choose varieties resistant to diseases in your area. \”Sudden wilt\” is a complex disease and cold weather stress syndrome in late summer when plants have a heavy set of ripening melons, can cause plants to wilt almost overnight. Keep plants healthy with good fertility and irrigation.

Insect Pests

Control cucumber beetles by using fabric row covers or with botanical insecticides rotenone and/or pyrethrin.

Ripeness

Each variety is a little different and must be learned! Most melon varieties are ready when the gray-green color begins to change to buff-yellow and when a light tug separates the fruit from the vine.

Storage

Store ripe netted melons at near freezing; store other melons at 45-50°F and 80% humidity for 2-4 weeks.

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