CUCUMBERS, MELONS, AND OTHER CUCURBITS. Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus ), cucumber (Cucumis sativus ), and melon (Cucumis melo ) are main crop species within the cucurbit or vine-crop household (the Cucurbitaceae), an necessary household of flowering crops (the angiosperms). The household additionally contains squash, pumpkin, and gourds.
Cucumber, melon, and watermelon are initially from the Previous World (primarily Africa and Asia). Though they’re in the identical household (Cucurbitaceae) with the squashes, pumpkins, and gourds (principally of the genus Cucurbita ), they’re solely distantly related. The Cucurbita species are from the New World (primarily Central and South America).
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Watermelon, cucumber, and melon crops are trailing or vining, tendril-bearing, frost-sensitive annuals. They’re principally monoecious (separate staminate and pistillate flowers, typically known as male and feminine flowers) and require varied bugs, particularly bees, to impact pollination. The fruits are variously formed, multiseeded, specialised berries referred to as pepos. Collectively, crops on this household are referred to as cucurbits.
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus )
Watermelon is initially from central and southern Africa. The citron (Citrullus lanatus var. citroides ) grows wild there, and is considered related to the wild ancestor of watermelon. The related species often called Egusi melon (Citrullus colocynthis ) is discovered wild in west Africa and can be considered related to the wild ancestor of watermelon.
Watermelon is consumed for its contemporary fruit, pickled rind, glacé sweet, and for its dry seeds (harvested from confectionary sort cultivars). The watermelon fruit incorporates 93 p.c water, with small quantities of protein, fats, minerals, and nutritional vitamins (Desk 1). In some arid areas, watermelon is used as a precious supply of water. The key dietary elements of the fruit are carbohydrates (6.4 g/100 g), vitamin A (590 IU), and lycopene (4,100
Dietary composition of cucumber, melon, and watermelon (quantities per 100 g edible portion) Nutrient Cucumber (slicing) Cucumber (pickling) West Indies gherkin Casaba melon Honeydew melon Musk-melon Watermelon (fruit) Watermelon (seeds) Water (p.c) 96 96 93 92 90 90 93 5.7 Power (kcal) 13 12 17 26 35 35 26 567 Protein (g) 0.5 0.7 1.4 0.9 0.5 0.9 0.5 25.8 Fats (g) 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.2 49.7 Carbohydrate (g) 2.9 2.4 2.0 6.2 9.2 8.4 6.4 15.1 Fiber (g) 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.5 0.6 0.4 — 4.0 Ca (mg) 14 13 26 5 6 11 7 53 P (mg) 17 24 38 7 10 17 10 — Fe (mg) 0.3 0.6 0.6 0.4 0.1 0.2 0.5 — Na (mg) 2 6 6 12 10 9 1 — Okay (mg) 149 190 290 210 271 309 100 — Vitamin A (IU) 45 270 270 30 40 3,224 590 — Thiamine (mg) 0.03 0.04 0.1 0.06 0.08 0.04 0.03 0.1 Riboflavin (mg) 0.02 0.2 0.04 0.02 0.02 0.02 0.03 0.12 Niacin (mg) 0.30 0.4 0.4 0.40 0.60 0.57 0.20 1.4 Ascorbic Acid (mg) 4.7 19.0 51.0 16.0 24.8 42.2 7.0 — Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.05 0.4 0.4 — 0.06 0.12 —- 1.4 supply: Gebhardt, Cutrufelli, and Matthews, 1982; Haytowitz and Matthews, 1984; Rubatzky and Yamaguchi, 1997.
μg/100g, vary 2,300-7,200), an anticarcinogenic compound present in pink flesh watermelon. Lycopene could assist scale back the chance of sure cancers, resembling prostate, pancreas, and abdomen. The lycopene content material of the brand new darkish pink watermelon cultivars is larger than in tomato, pink grapefruit, or guava. Orange flesh sorts don’t include lycopene, however have a excessive carotene (vitamin A) content material. Citron and Egusi sort watermelons are used to feed cattle in Africa. Watermelon seeds are wealthy in fats and protein.
Wild watermelons have exhausting, non-sweet, typically bitter, white flesh. By means of plant breeding, the domesticated watermelon now being grown has fruit with a protecting rind, candy edible flesh, and shiny pink colour. Specialty cultivars can be found with orange, yellow, or white flesh.
By means of historical past, watermelon was distributed all through the world as commerce and information of central Africa developed. The crop was grown in India by a minimum of 800 c.e., and in China by 1100 c.e. The Moorish conquerors of Spain launched watermelon into Europe, the place it was famous in Cordoba in 961 c.e. and Seville in 1158 c.e. Watermelon’s unfold into northern Europe was comparatively gradual, because it was not famous within the British Isles till late within the sixteenth century, maybe due to the commonly unfavorable local weather for watermelon tradition in a lot of Europe. About this time, watermelons have been launched into the New World, with tradition of the crops famous within the Massachusetts colony in 1629. The introduction of watermelon into different elements of the world has adopted established commerce routes.
In the US, Thomas Jefferson, as indicated in his backyard report, was a watermelon gardener at Monticello, as was Henry David Thoreau in Harmony, Massachusetts. Mark Twain wrote in Puddn’head Wilson that “The true southern watermelon is a boon apart and not to be mentioned with common things. It is chief of the world’s luxuries, king by the grace of God over all the fruits of the earth. When one has tasted it, he knows what the angels eat.” Even as we speak, watermelon exerts an affect over well-liked tradition in festivals all through the agricultural South.
Watermelon is grown commercially in areas with lengthy frost-free heat durations. Crops are extensively spaced due to the lengthy, trailing vines. They could be established within the discipline by planting seeds or by transplanting containerized crops. Administration of plant pests (weeds, bugs, and ailments, together with nematodes) is important through the manufacturing interval. Three-fourths of the world manufacturing is grown in Asia (Desk 2), with China the main nation in manufacturing.
Watermelons are grown in most states of the US, however the main producers are within the South and West (Florida, Georgia, California, and Texas).The fruits are harvested by hand, with essentially the most skilled employees doing the slicing (removing of the fruit from the vine) and
World manufacturing of cantaloupe and melon, cucumber and gherkins, and watermelon (1997) Manufacturing (mg x 1000) Continent or space Cantaloupe (melon) Cucumber (gherkin) Watermelon Africa 1,045 390 2,679 North & Central America 1,966 1,589 2,539 South America 427 76 1,497 Asia 12,071 20,245 35,730 Europe 2,421 3,504 3,601 Oceania 78 22 90 World 18,009 25,827 46,135 supply: FAO Manufacturing Yearbook 51 (1997).
the others loading the bins or vans. The fruits are shipped to markets all through the nation, with some exported to Canada.
Watermelon fruit will preserve for 2 to a few weeks after harvest whether it is saved correctly at 10 to fifteen°C and 90 p.c RH. In addition to complete watermelons, it’s turning into well-liked to promote watermelon in pre-cut halves, quarters, slices, and chunks. Complete fruit are normally lower within the retailer underneath chilly, aseptic circumstances for the reason that lower product doesn’t ship or retailer effectively. Seedless watermelons are particularly well-liked for pre-cut gross sales, since that exhibits their seedless high quality.
Within the 1800s, most watermelon was grown for native gross sales. Growth in the previous couple of many years of speedy transport in refrigerated railroad vehicles and vans has led to distribution of watermelon all through the US from main manufacturing areas. Southern manufacturing areas start transport early within the yr, and the harvest continues all through the summer season in additional northern areas.
Relying on the cultivar, watermelon fruit are produced in numerous sizes: ice field, small, medium, giant, or big; completely different shapes: spherical, oval, blocky, or elongate; completely different rind patterns: grey, slender stripe, medium stripe, huge stripe, mild stable, or darkish stable; completely different flesh colours: white, yellow, orange, or pink; and differing types: seeded or seedless. Commercially, the most well-liked seeded cultivars are pink flesh, blocky form, and giant sized (8-11 kg), just like the cultivar Allsweet. For seedless watermelons, the favored cultivars are pink flesh, oval form, and medium sized (5-8 kg), just like the cultivar Tri-X-313. Per capita consumption of watermelons in the US is 7.2 kg (Desk 3). Watermelon seeds could be harvested and roasted for consuming as effectively.
Watermelon is served contemporary as slices, as chunks (typically in fruit salad), as juice, and as edible seeds for the confectionary sorts. In the US, watermelon has sometimes been a part of the summer season picnic, the place the
Per capita consumption of cucumber, melon, and watermelon in the US, 2000 Vegetable crop or group Consumption (kg/individual) Cucumber (contemporary) 3.13 Cucumber (processed) 2.18 Honeydew melon 1.27 Muskmelon 5.44 Watermelon 7.21 All greens (contemporary) 104.33 All greens (processed) 102.06 supply: USDA (2000), VGS-281.
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big (15 kg) fruit is well-liked. Picnic occasions that characteristic watermelon embrace consuming contests (who can eat essentially the most), seed spitting (who can spit the seeds the farthest), or greased watermelon video games (which crew can transfer a greased watermelon—which floats however is tough to carry onto—over to its aspect of the lake). Nonetheless, watermelon is now not only a summer season fruit and is turning into an on a regular basis fruit like apples, bananas, and oranges.
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus )
The cucumber is assumed to have originated in India, the place it’s discovered wild and is cultivated in lots of numerous kinds. Accessions of Cucumis sativus L. var. hardwickii could also be related to the unique ancestors of the cucumber, and have been collected within the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains. These kinds aren’t straight useable in agriculture due to their bitter fruit, dormant seeds, and late maturity. Nonetheless, they’ve some traits which were transferred to elite cultivars by plant breeders.
Secondary facilities of range for the cucumber exist in China and the Close to East. Related species are Cucumis hystrix from China and the African Cucumis, resembling melon (Cucumis melo ), gherkin (Cucumis anguria ), and their wild family members.
Cucumbers have been in all probability domesticated in Asia and then launched into Europe, the place the primary cultivars have been chosen within the 1700s. The primary cucumbers have been delivered to the Americas by Christopher Columbus, and Native People have been rising cucumbers from Florida to Canada by the early 1500s. Formal plant breeding started in the US within the Eighteen Eighties, when cultivars diverged into fresh-market (slicing) and processing (pickling) sorts.
The cucumber is grown for its fruits, that are eaten contemporary or pickled in most nations, however that are additionally eaten fried (normally when fruit have been harvested at a extra mature stage). Slicing and pickling cucumber fruit are principally water, however they supply some vitamin A and C, particularly when pickled with dill and different spices (Desk 1). Cucumber is the best meals for folks having bother with physique weight, as a result of it’s principally water, with some fiber, and few energy. Cucumber causes burping and gentle abdomen upset in some folks when eaten uncooked, however not when soaked in vinegar or pickled earlier than consuming. Cucumber can be amongst 35 fruits, greens, and herbs recognized by the Nationwide Most cancers Institute as having cancer-protective properties.
Cucumbers are served and eaten at house and in eating places (particularly quick meals institutions) the place pickle chips or relish are served on hamburgers and sizzling canine. Pickles are additionally served as appetizers. Recent cucumbers are sliced and served in salads or as garnishes so as to add colour to the meal. Per capita annual consumption of contemporary cucumber is 3.1 kg and processed cucumber 2.2 kg in the US (Desk 3).
Cucumber is utilized in most nations on the earth, the place specific sorts have been developed to suit native necessities. The widespread sorts are American pickling, American slicing, European greenhouse, Center Jap (Beit Alpha), Dutch pickling (parthenocarpic), oriental trellis, and specialty (such because the spherical or “lemon” cucumber). Some sorts known as cucumber, resembling Armenian cucumber, are literally melon (Cucumis melo ).
Recent-market cucumbers are grown primarily within the southern and western states of the US, particularly Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and California. Processing cucumbers are grown from Mexico to Canada so they’re accessible yr round for processors, typically at a substantial distance from the manufacturing website. About 80 p.c of the world’s cucumber manufacturing is in Asia (Desk 2), with China being the main producer (Desk 4).
Cucumbers are harvested by hand for fresh-market use, and by hand or machine for processing use. Michigan and Wisconsin have an estimated 50 to 75 p.c and 25 to 50 p.c machine harvest, respectively. As soon as-over harvest machines destroy the vines as they harvest the fruit (pickling sort solely). After harvest, the fruit are cooled, graded, packed, and shipped. The cucumbers may have fewer post-harvest rots and an extended storage life if they’re cooled quickly after harvest.
Recent-market cucumbers are transported to market and displayed for a number of days on the market to customers. The fruit could also be shrink wrapped in polyethylene or coated with vegetable wax to increase shelf life, or they might be bought with no safety. For fresh-market cucumbers, storage at 50°F (10°C) and 95 p.c relative humidity (RH) will allow the produce to carry for roughly two weeks after harvest. The American slicing sort cucumber has a thick powerful pores and skin to cut back transport injury and enhance storage life. Pickling cucumbers are graded and then loaded into tanks of brine (salt water) for fermentation and storage.
The pickling business initially used brine tank storage to supply brine inventory (pickles) to the manufacturing unit through the low season. Presently, nevertheless, greater than half of the crop is processed with out brining. Pasteurization is used to provide contemporary pack pickles, and refrigeration is used to provide in a single day pickles. Fermentation in brine tanks is used much less for storage now, and extra to provide specific sorts and flavors (for instance, by utilizing acetic acid or lactic acid fermentation).
Storage of pickling cucumber is normally in barrels, pails, jars, or plastic pouches. Preservation is by fermentation, pasteurizing, or refrigeration. For pickling cucumber, it is not uncommon and economical for growers to produce markets around the globe. For instance, growers in India and Sri Lanka provide small pickles in barrels of vinegar or salt brine to processors in Europe and North America.
Within the 1700s, cucumber manufacturing in the US in all probability was small scale; people and households would develop a number of crops of their backyard for the house, in all probability utilizing the fruit contemporary through the summer season harvest season and pickled (utilizing a favourite recipe to protect the fruit) through the low season. Within the 1800s, household farmers grew small areas of cucumbers to produce the contemporary market and pickle firms. Even when growers turned specialised in cucumber manufacturing within the 1900s, household farmers continued to produce small measurement (grade 1, underneath 26 mm diameter) fruit to pickle firms. Giant discipline crews usually don’t harvest every discipline on daily basis and normally don’t search the vines for small fruit as required to provide a excessive proportion of grade 1 fruit from the sphere.
Main nations in manufacturing of cantaloupe and melon, cucumber and gherkin, and watermelon (MT x 1000) in 1997 Cantaloupe (melon) Cucumber (gherkin) Watermelon China China China Turkey Turkey Turkey Iran Iran United States United States United States Iran Spain Japan Republic of Korea supply: FAO Manufacturing Yearbook 51 (1997).
Cucumber manufacturing is now being executed by growers with giant farms, specialised tools, and glorious advertising and marketing abilities. The small-scale manufacturing of cucumber has additionally elevated, as house gardening in the US has grow to be very talked-about.
The key modification made to the cucumber within the Thirties was to start breeding for illness resistance. Within the Nineteen Sixties, gynoecious cucumbers (pistillate or feminine flowers at each node) have been developed, and at the moment are used to make gynoecious hybrids utilizing bee pollination (relatively than the dearer hand pollination). The gynoecious hybrid cucumber, normally with 15 p.c monoecious hybrid pollenizer seeds blended into the seed packet, is a serious success story. Present cultivars are immune to anthracnose, downy mildew, powdery mildew, angular leafspot, scab, fusarium wilt, cucumber mosaic virus, and different main ailments discovered all through the US.
Plant breeders have developed a brand new sort of cucumber able to being grown within the greenhouse. The modifications embrace making the plant gynoecious (all pistillate or feminine flowers) and parthenocarpic (fruit set with out pollination to get rid of the necessity for bees or hand pollination, and making the fruit seedless), and of top of the range (genetically bitter-free plant for mild-flavored fruit).
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Different modifications made by plant breeders embrace the event of cultivars having giant diameter fruit to be used in chipping. Thus, a sandwich or hamburger could be made utilizing one large-diameter pickle chip relatively than three of the usual measurement. Nonetheless, that growth was negated by means of giant pickling cucumbers (grade 3) sliced longitudinally to make an oblong chip. Two of these can be utilized on a sandwich or hamburger as a substitute of the only giant chip, and the standard is commonly superior.
Melon (Cucumis melo )
Melon originated in southern Africa and has many wild family members there. Related species embrace cucumber (Cucumis sativus ), the West Indian gherkin (Cucumis anguria ), and the horned cucumber (Cucumis metuliferus ). Cucurbits, together with melons, have advanced symbolic associations with intercourse and sexuality, fertility, abundance, and gluttony. They could denote wealth in areas the place melons don’t usually develop.
Melon fruit have a excessive water content material (about 90 p.c), and include sugars and fiber. Vitamins present in melon embrace vitamin C, and within the case of muskmelon (and different orange-fleshed sorts), carotenes. Dietary compositions of casaba, honeydew, and muskmelon (cantaloupe) are proven in Desk 1.
The key adjustments made by plant breeders to the domesticated melon in contrast with wild family members have been so as to add illness resistance, take away seed dormancy, enhance fruit measurement, enhance the dimensions of the mesocarp (the edible portion of the fruit), enhance the standard, scale back the frequency of defects, and enhance the sugar content material.
Melon was introduced from Africa to Europe and Asia, and from Europe to the Americas. It’s now cultivated all through the world, the place particular sorts have been bred for native use. A helpful horticultural classification of melons follows:
- The Cantalupensis group contains cantaloupe, muskmelon, and Persian melon. The fruits are oval or spherical; sutured or clean; principally netted, some barely netted or nonnetted; and abscise from the peduncle when mature. The flesh is fragrant and is normally salmon or orange in colour, however could also be inexperienced. In the US, the time period “muskmelon” and “cantaloupe” are used interchangeably, however some horticultural scientists counsel that they be used to differentiate between kinds of the C. melo Cantalupensis group. This group contains the Reticulatus group utilized in some older classifications.
- The Inodorus group contains winter melon, casaba, Crenshaw, honeydew, Juan Canary, and Santa Claus. The fruits are spherical or irregular, clean or wrinkled, however not netted; nor do they abscise from the peduncle at maturity. The flesh is usually inexperienced or white, sometimes orange, and not fragrant.
- The Flexuosus group contains the snake or serpent melon and the Armenian cucumber. The fruits are fairly lengthy, skinny, ribbed, and typically curled irregularly.
- The Conomon group contains the oriental pickling melon. The fruits are clean, cylindrical, and could also be inexperienced, white, or striped. The flesh is white and can style both candy or bland.
- The Dudaim group contains mango melon, pomegranate melon, and Queen Anne’s melon. The fruits are small, spherical to oval, and mild inexperienced, yellow, or striped. The flesh is agency and yellowish-white in colour.
- The Momordica group contains the phoot and snap melon. The fruits are oval or cylindrical with clean pores and skin that cracks because the fruit matures.
Melons require an extended rising season with heat, sunny days and cool nights to realize most high quality. Crops are established by seeds or containerized crops after hazard of frost is previous. Stringent administration of plant pests is critical for prime yield and high quality. As with different cucurbits, it’s essential to have a big honeybee inhabitants to facilitate pollination. Asia produces about two-thirds of the world provide, with China being the most important producer (Tables 2 and 4). A number of nations in Central America are main melon producers for export to the US in late winter and early spring. In the US, most melons are produced in California, Arizona, Texas, and Georgia. In Japan, melons are grown in greenhouses to provide top quality fruit generally used as items.
Melons are harvested by hand from the vine. Maturity within the Cantalupenis group is by separation of the fruit from the peduncle (fruit stem) with minimal pressure. Maturity within the Inodorus group melons just isn’t as simply decided, and they might be handled with ethylene after harvest to reinforce the ripening course of throughout transit to the market. Cantaloupes are finest saved at 3°C and 95 p.c RH, whereas different melons are finest saved at 7°C and 95 p.c RH. The efficient postharvest life is about two weeks for each sorts.
Melon is served contemporary as slices, chunks, or juice. Chunks are sometimes utilized in fruit salad, made into melon balls and frozen, or ready and bought in grocery shops to be eaten as is. Complete per capita melon consumption in the US is about 7 kg (Desk 3). The vitamin A and C content material make melon a nutritious meals (Desk 1).
See additionally Fruit; Squash and Gourds; Greens.
Bates, David M., Richard W. Robinson, and Charles Jeffrey, eds. Biology and Utilization of the Cucurbitaceae. Ithaca: Cornell College Press, 1990.
Maynard, David, and Donald N. Maynard. “Cucumber, Melons, and Watermelon.” In The Cambridge World Historical past of Meals, edited by Kenneth F. Kiple and Kriemhild Coneè Ornelas. Quantity 2. Cambridge, U.Okay.: Cambridge College Press, 2000.
Maynard, Donald N., ed. Watermelons. Traits, Manufacturing, and Advertising and marketing. Alexandria, Va.: ASHS Press, 2001.
Robinson, R. W., and D. S. Decker-Walters. Cucurbits. New York: CAB Worldwide, 1997.
Whitaker, Thomas W., and Glen N. Davis. Cucurbits, Botany, Cultivation, and Utilization. New York: Interscience, 1962.
Todd C. WehnerDonald N. Maynard
West Indian Gherkin (Cucumis anguria )
The West Indian gherkin (Cucumis anguria var. anguria ), also called the bur gherkin, was thought to have originated within the Caribbean, however now’s thought of to be of African origin. The African progenitor is Cucumis anguria var. longaculeatus, previously referred to as Cucumis longipes. It was in all probability delivered to Brazil and the West Indies (the place it bought its identify) by Africans within the slave commerce. The time period gherkin can be used for the pickling sort of cucumber, particularly the small sizes.
Fruit of the bur gherkin are smaller (5 cm) than these of the cucumber, however the defining attribute of this species is the lengthy peduncle or fruit stem (as much as 20 cm in size). The fruit are mild yellow to pale inexperienced, and are coated with quick, fleshy spines. The fruit are eaten contemporary or pickled.
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