Melon is an annual plant with abundant roots, highly branched and creeping stems and with large, petiolate leaves with serrated margins. Its stems are rough to the touch and have tendrils that help the plant to cling to the ground. The plant generates solitary flowers of characteristic yellow color and its fruits are peponids that vary in shape and size depending on the variety. They are spherical in shape, ellipsoidal and with diameters ranging from 15 to 60 centimeters. Depending on the variety, both the color of the rind and the pulp can vary. Both the pulp and the rind can be green, yellow, orange or white.
The surface occupied by this crop In Spain is between 19,000 hectares, of which about 15,000 are outdoors. In total, approximately 1,000,000 tons are produced annually. Of these, more than a third are dedicated to export. The main producing provinces are Almería and Ciudad Real.
The melon needs soft, medium textured and deep soils to grow properly. It adapts without problems to a certain alkalinity, but it does not tolerate acid soils well. It is a plant moderately sensitive to salinity.
The optimal thermal range of germination is between 24 and 32ºC. At less than 12ºC, melon seeds do not germinate. The optimum temperature for melon growth ranges from 18 to 24ºC, with humidity between 60-70%. Above 35-40ºC the fruits can get damaged.
Although melons are deep-rooted plants, it is advisable to use continuous irrigation to enhance their growth. The plant has its maximum water needs during fruit fattening phase, so optimal irrigation and fertilization at that time is essential to obtain high crop yields.
Varieties are used to grouping based on the characteristics of their fruits. As a whole, we can speak of the Spanish melons with smooth rind (Tendral, Roget, Valenciano and Amarillo), the Spanish melons with reticulated green rind (Villaconejos, Verde oloroso reticulado, Piel de sapo), the Cantaloupes (Charentais, Vedrantais, Top Mark , Ogen, Galia) and the special ones such as the Honeand-Dew, Alficoz, etc.