Department of Horticulture
In the northern part of this State the need of early varieties of melons, especially watermelons, is generally felt. In especially favorable soils and locations little difficulty is experienced, but on dry upland with ordinary field cultivation, the season of maturity of watermelons is too near the time of killing frosts. Watermelons are more appreciated during hot weather than when cool weather sets in. Can an extra early variety of watermelon be bred to meet this want? This question was brought to mind with especial force to the horticulturist of this department during a ten-months' trip (June, 1897-March, 1898,) collecting seeds for the United States Department of Agriculture in European Russia and Central Asia. In the Volga River region good watermelons are grown north of the corn belt of southern Russia. Numerous large barges were noted on the Volga River filled with watermelons. The land is largely summer-fallowed in alternate years, and some of the best fields are used for melons as a resting crop in the summer-fallow year. Upon reaching .Transcaucasia, north of Armenia, between the Black and Caspian seas, extra large muskmelons were observed, especially in the region near Mount Ararat. But it was not until the cotton-growing sections east of the Caspian Sea, in Turcomania, Bokhara, Amu Daria, Samarkand and Tashkend, all in Russian Turkestan, just north of Persia and Afghanistan and west of China, was reached, that the climax in size of muskmelons was observed. Ordinary specimens of many varieties weighed fully thirty pounds, as purchased in the bazars, and government officials informed me that select specimens often weighed over one Russian pood (equals thirty- six pounds avoirdupois) each. Some varieties do not ripen on the vines; but are hung up in slings in the houses close to the ceiling and ripen through the winter and spring seeds of 287 varieties of muskmelons and watermelons were obtained for trial in the United States, and have been distributed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture. (See Inventory Nos. r and 2, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Section of Seed and Plant Introduction). The large winter muskmelons from Turkestan have done well so far only in the warm dry sections of the United States, which is probably due to the fact that they are mostly from cotton-growing regions. Their long-keeping capacity and excellent quality are bringing some of them into prominence in Colorado and elsewhere.
muskmelons, watermelons, N. E. Hansen, Melon growing
U. S. Experiment Station of South Dakota, South Dakota Agricultural College
Hansen, N.E. and Thornber, W.S., "Watermelons and Muskmelons in South Dakota" (1900). Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletins. 67.