The Q&A Archives: Pruning Melon Plants Late In Season

Question: I've got 4 or 5 cantelope plants growing on a screen mounted on my backyard fence. They're incredibly lush and full of flowers, due to liberal feedings of compost. But, it's near the end of August, and the 15-20 melons currently growing are about the size of softballs. I've read about (and tried) pruning tomatoes, to force them to ripen the fruits that are already formed. Can this be done with melons? I doubt the other eight million flowers will have time to amount to anything. Incidentally, this is not an early variety.
Thanks for your insights!

Answer: Removing extra or later-set melons melons will help the remaining earlier formed fruits to size up to their maximum potential and may speed ripening somewhat. About six melons per vine would be as many as you would ever want to allow, so you might want to cull down to just three per vine. A rule of thumb is to remove any small melons and and tip back the vine about a month before frost. Then the best you can do is keep the plants growing with good fertility and water as needed, and protect them on cool nights. Remember to adjust the slings holding them as needed and keep an eye out for hungry critters who might try to steal them. Good luck!

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