The Pepino melon (Solanum maritacum) is perennial evergreen shrub grown mainly for its juicy and aromatic fruits.
The plant bears fruits that are bright green or yellow green with some red or purple variegations. The flesh is golden when ripe with a narrow seed cavity.
Pepino melon fruit is entirely edible, it’s very sweet and juicy.
- Soils– the plant requires a well-drained deep soil of an optimum PH of 6.5-7.5. It does not tolerate saline soils.
- Altitude-Pepino melon is a cool season crop tolerant to conditions areas with an attitude range of 1500-3000 M ASL.
- Temperature– for optimal performance, a temperature range of 12°C-24°C is suitable. Production is affected by relatively high temperatures.
- Rainfall-the crop does best in regions which receive an annual rainfall of between 800mm-1200mm.
Propagation is by seeds or cuttings. The crop is however easily and oftenly propagated from cuttings.
The cutting are planted at a spacing of 3*3ft.
Cutting should be soaked in OPTIMIZER 20ml/1l overnight in order to help increase uniformity in rooting as well as break dormancy.
A mature plant can attain a height of 1.5 meters.PESTS & DISEASE CONTROL
- Cutworms- these are brown or grey chewing pests usually found in the soil near the plant root zone. They cut down the young and tender stems.
Drench soil with PENTAGON 50EC 20ml/20l or PROFILE 440EC 60ml/20l
- Leaf miners– The larvae mines under the leaf surface, creating white mines which are irregular in shape and increase in width as the larvae mature. This reduces photosynthesis area.
Spray with ALONZE 50EC 5ml/20l or ESCORT 19EC 10ml/20l
- Spider mites– they feed by piercing and sucking. Infested leaves have a stippled appearance which turn yellowish to whitish and dry up. They form webs on the undersides of the leaves.
Spray with ALONZE 50EC 5ml/20l or BAZOOKA 18EC 10ml/20l
- Fruit fly– – it attacks the young fruits altering their cell development and multiplication. This leads to production of deformed fruits as well as immature dropping of the infested fruits.
Spray LEXUS 247EC 8ml/20l or PRESENTO 200SP 5g/20l
- Whiteflies– These are white winged insects which suck sap from the plants causing damages and reducing plant vigour. As they feed, they produce honeydew which induces growth of sooty molds.
Spray TAURUS 500SP 10g/20l or LEXUS 247EC 8ml/20l
- Aphids- These suck sap from leaves causing curling and distortion. They secrete honeydew which facilitates the development of sooty mold while feeding.
Spray KINGCODE ELITE 50EC 10ml/20L or PENTAGON 50EC 10ml/20l or Lexus 247EC 8ml/20l
- Anthracnose – on infection, fruits develop circular black or brown sunken lesions. Water soaked lesions are also seen on the leaves and stems.
Spray RANSOM 600WP 15g/20l or BRADLEY 500SC 10ml/20l or DOMAIN 250EC 10ml/20l
- Bacterial spots– infection leads to development of small greasy and dark green marks under the leaves which eventually turn purplish with black centres. Fruit lesions are dark brown bumps which sink into the fruit as it grows making it appear scabbed.
Spray GREENCOP 500WP 50g/20l or COLONIZER 440WP 50g/20l
- Early blight–symptoms first appear on the lower, older leaves as small brown spots with a characteristic concentric rings which form a “blue eye” pattern.
Spray EXEMPO CURVE 250SC 15ml/20l or RANSOM 600WP 15g/20l or FORTRESS GOLD 720WP 40g/20l
- Late blight– leaves develop large water soaked, dark brown lesions with greenish grey margins. Heavy infestation causes defoliation. Infected fruits form firm dark brown spots which grow as infection progresses, covering the fruit parts.
Spray GEARLOCK TURBO 250WP 25g/20l or FORTRESS GOLD 750WP 40g/20l or TOWER 720 WP 50g/20l
NB; CADILAC 800WP 50g/20l helps in preventing disease infection
NUTRITION & NUTRITION DEFICIENCY
For optimal production, the crop should be supplied with enough nutrients. This can be achieved through both basal and foliar fertilizer application.
Basal fertilizers– these are majorly absorbed by the plant through the roots.
- DAP- used during planting
- CAN- for top dressing
- Others like NPK, UREA, etc.
Foliar fertilizers– they are absorbed by the plant through its foliage. They are usually sprayed.
- OPTIMIZER 10ml/20l -this is a super stress manager, helps in boosting plant’s immunity stimulates plant’s growth and prevents flower abortion. It can be sprayed at any stage of the crop development and has both macro and micro nutrient elements needed by the plant.
- DIMIPHITE 10ml/20l- this promotes flowering and fruiting of the plant and increases the sugar levels of the fruits.
- VITABOR GOLD 60ml/20l- improves the general quality of the fruit.
- GOLDCHANCE RANGE 50g/20l – this takes care of the crop at its different growth and development stages thus increases production.
- Nitrogen deficiency– The growth rate of nitrogen-deficient plant is reduced and a general yellowing of plant occurs, beginning with the older leaves.
Correction; spray LAVENDER 20ml/20ltrs or GOLDCHANCE SUPER GROWTH 50g/20l
- Phosphorus deficiency– Deficient plants grow slowly, internodes are shortened and stunted. Typically leaves show a purplish colour.
Correction; spray with GOLDCHANCE SUPER START 50g/20lt or PLANT SOUL 40ml/20ltrs or LAVENDER 20ml/20l
- Potassium deficiency– young leaves on potassium-deficient plants are small, dull-appearing and assume a cupped appearance.
Correction; spray GOLDCHANCE SUPER FLOWERS & FRUITS 50g/20l or DIMIPHITE 20ml/20l or GREENPHITE 50ml/20l.
- Boron deficiency- leaves become chlorotic then necrotic. Growing points may die off as deficiency continues. Fruit quality is decreased.
Correction; spray VITABOR GOLD 20ml/20l.
- Calcium deficiency- growth is retarded and internodes are shortened, leaf margin stop expanding and leaves cup downward. New root growth is impaired. Blossom End rot of the fruit may occur.
Correction; spray FERRARI GOLD 60ml/20l or drench SILVEDO GOLD 100ml/20l
- Basal fertilizers should be mixed with HUMIPOWER at the rate of 1kg Humipower into 50kg fertilizer. This helps in improving the nutrient uptake rate, stimulating growth, improving soil structure, among other benefits.
- Whenever doing foliar spray of any chemical, mix it with INTEGRA 3ml/20l. It is a sticker, spreader and penetrant which improves the efficacy of the chemical.
Weeds compete with the crop of interest for nutrients, space, water and sunlight. It is therefore a good practice to keep a Pepino melon garden weed free in order to prevent the losses attributed to weed infestation.
Although hand/manual weeding is recommended once the crop has established, spraying weeds with CLAMPDOWN 480SL 200 ml/20l before planting greatly reduces weed development.
Mulching helps to suppress weed growth.
MATURITY, HARVESTING & POST-HARVEST HANDLING
Fruits mature within 30-80 days after pollination. However, the fruits do not mature at the same time. Fruits should be picked only when completely mature in order to assure the highest flavour and sugar content.
Ripe flesh of the fruit is pale yellow-orange in colour. Fruits should be handled carefully because they bruise easily.
Fruits can be stored under room temperature for 4-6days or refrigerated for several weeks.
Pepino melon fruit has the following health benefits, among others;
- Reduces the risks of stress
- Reduces the risk of hypertension
- Helps in preventing diabetes
- It lowers the blood cholesterol levels
- It is essential in increasing stamina.