Nevada-Grown Melons: Enhancing production and adoption through novel management techniques

Project Overview

SW20-918
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2020: $349,825.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2023
Grant Recipients: Board of Regents, NSHE, obo University of Nevada, Reno; Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona
Region: Western
State: Nevada
Principal Investigator:
Felipe Barrios Masias
Board of Regents, NSHE, obo University of Nevada, Reno
Co-Investigators:
Heidi Kratsch
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
Bindu Poudel-Ward
University of Arizona

Commodities

  • Fruits: melons

Practices

  • Crop Production: grafting, irrigation, varieties and cultivars
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Pest Management: mulching - plastic
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, organic agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Nevada farmers are challenged by a short growing season and slow crop establishment of warm-season vegetables. Yet, increased demand for local produce in nearby urban areas presents an opportunity to diversify farms while adapting to climate uncertainty. Although melons perform well in arid climates, producers express that slow root growth and diseases affect production. Growers could rely on grafted melons, but information on which and how rootstocks can improve management does not exist for local growers. This project integrates farmers’ interests in a series of greenhouse research and on-farm trials in Northern Nevada and Yuma, Arizona, which is also an arid region, but it has a well-established melon industry that could benefit from adoption of grafting to reduce disease incidence and increase productivity.

    Objectives:

    1. Evaluate and select melon rootstocks that enhance early crop establishment and performance of grafted cultivars under desert climates.
    2. Determine how selected rootstocks can affect melon cultivar yields and fruit quality under different management and on-farm conditions (e.g., mulching and irrigation).
    3. Conduct a survey of specialty crop farms (organic and conventional) to evaluate the needs and concerns of growers from the perspective of crop diversification and sustainability.
    4. Conduct annual educational outreach activities to communicate with stakeholders on research progress and acquire feedback for future research activities.

    Outcome indicators:

    1. Identify at least two rootstocks and the mechanisms by which they confer better crop establishment and higher yields than own-rooted cultivars.
    2. Produce three annual fact sheets and two scientific articles with results regarding melon rootstocks, mulching, water management alternatives, and survey outcomes to increase awareness of producers and other stakeholders on crop diversification and adoption of practices to overcome biotic and abiotic stresses.
    3. Adoption from 30% of local producers of rootstock technology directed to improve crop establishment and yields. In the short term, local growers in Nevada and Arizona will likely adopt this technology, but we expect to stimulate nationwide interest.
    4. One graduate student and at least five undergraduates will acquire theory and hands-on training in areas necessary for success in their careers.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Evaluate and select melon rootstocks that enhance early crop establishment and performance of grafted cultivars under desert climates.

    Task 1: Screen multiple rootstocks and determine the root morphological and physiological traits that improve cultivar performance.

    Task 2: Assess how shoot physiological performance of a grafted cultivar is affected by rootstocks (e.g., leaf gas exchange and yield).

     

    1. Determine how selected rootstocks can affect melon cultivar yields and fruit quality under different management and on-farm conditions (e.g., mulching and irrigation).

    Task 1: Evaluate crop physiological performance, disease tolerance and yields of the producer’s choice cultivars (i.e., scions) grafted on rootstocks selected from Obj. 1.

    Task 2: Evaluate alternative management practices (e.g., mulching and irrigation) to enhance crop establishment and performance.

     

    1. Conduct a survey of specialty crop farms (organic and conventional) to evaluate the needs and concerns of growers from the perspective of crop diversification and sustainability.

    Task 1: Develop a survey tool in year one to administer to all specialty crop growers in Nevada.

    Task 2: Administer the survey in year 2 and use the results to fine-tune the nature of our education and outreach activities.

     

    1. Conduct annual educational outreach activities to communicate with stakeholders on research progress and acquire feedback for future research activities using the WSARE survey and evaluation tool.

    Task 1: Produce one extension fact sheet per year.

    Task 2: Conduct one field day per year at university and producers’ fields (years 2 and 3).

    Task 3: Disseminate results through local, regional and national conferences and workshops.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.