Image_1_Production of Low-Potassium Content Melon Through Hydroponic Nutrient Management Using Perlite Substrate.TIF
Chronic kidney disease patients are restricted to foods with high potassium content but our daily diets including melon are rich in potassium. Therefore, we investigated the production of low-potassium melon through hydroponic nutrient management in soilless culture using perlite substrate during autumn season of 2012, 2014 and spring season of 2016. In the first study, melon plants were supplied with 50% standard ‘Enshi’ nutrient solution until first 2 weeks of culture. In 3rd and 4th week, amount of applied potassium was 50, 75, 100, and 125% of required potassium nitrate for each plant per week (based on our previous study). It was found that, melon plants grown with 50% of its required potassium nitrate produced fruits with about 53% low-potassium compared to control. In the following study, four cultivars viz. Panna, Miyabi shunjuukei, Miyabi akifuyu412, and Miyabi soushun banshun309 were evaluated for their relative suitability of low-potassium melon production. Results showed insignificant difference in fruit potassium content among the cultivars used. Source of potassium fertilizer as potassium nitrate and potassium sulfate and their restriction (from 1 or 2 weeks after anthesis) were also studied. There were no influences on fruit potassium content and yield due to sources of potassium fertilizer and restriction timings. In our previous studies, it was evident that potassium can be translocated from leaves to fruits at maturity when it was supplied nutrient without potassium. Thus, we also studied total number of leaves per plant (23, 24, 25, 26, and 27 leaves per plant). It was evident that fruit potassium, yield, and quality were not influenced significantly due to differences in number of leaves per plant. These studies showed that restriction of potassium nitrate in the culture solution from anthesis to harvest could produce melon fruits with low-potassium (>20%) content compared to potassium content of greenhouse grown melon (340 mg/100 g FW). Quality testing and clinical validation of low-potassium melon also showed positive responses compared to greenhouse grown melon.