Tiny Fruit on Vine Crops - Knowledgebase Question

North Salt Lake, UT
Question by lesley3
August 11, 1998
I live in a suburb of Salt Lake City and am growing watermelon, muskmelon and large pumpkins. We are nearing the middle of August and all three have developed fruit that is only the size of a tennis ball, with some fruit even smaller than that. There are a lot of blossoms, but just a few tiny fruit per vine. Should I give up or do they have any chance at all of growing to a usable size by harvest time?

Answer from NGA
August 11, 1998


If you planted your melons and pumpkins in early summer, the vines are healthy, and have had plenty of moisture and nutrients, the problem is probably due to poor pollination. The size of fruit is dependent on how many seeds are in the fruit, which results from pollen reaching ovules in the female flower. Next year, you can encourage bees to visit by planting lots flowers, applying bee-scent (available in garden centers). You can even pollinate the blossoms yourself using a cotton swab or paintbrush to transfer pollen from male blossoms to the female. I'm not sure of the length of your growing season, but I doubt you'll have a successful crop this year.

If you think your soil may be lacking nutrients, have a sample tested. Your county agricultural extension office (ph# 801/451-3402) has soil testing information. "Beef up" the soil with lots of compost, aged manure, etc. to improve the structure, drainage, moisture- and nutrient-holding capacity. Best of luck next time!

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