Vegetable Cross-Pollination

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Many people believe that by planting related crops close together, such as cantaloupes and cucumbers, the taste of the fruit will be affected, that the cross‑pollinated cantaloupe fruit will taste more like the cukes than the melons. Could this really happen?

  1. Since the portion of the plant you eat is the fruit that is formed from tissue of the plant, its flavor is genetically determined by that plant. A change in fruit sweetness, size, color, etc. by cross‑pollination is not possible. Vegetable flowers will produce fruit only like the plant they are growing on, regardless of the pollen used to fertilize the flowers.

BUT, the seeds inside the plant, if collected and planted, can show such changes. If the part of the plant you eat is the seed, then its characteristics are determined by both parents. An example is corn which is subject to visible cross‑pollination effects because the corn kernels are actually the seeds of the corn plant. Therefore, a cross between field corn and sweet corn would give tougher, less sweet ears.

However, the flesh of your cantaloupe is not the seed, so the taste would not be affected by pollination. But if you grow plants from seed saved from that fruit, they would be noticeably different. In addition, sometimes immature melon fruits can taste like cucumbers. Mainly though, the sweetness of melons depends on the sugar content which depends on the length of time the fruit is attached to the stem and the photosynthesizing of the plant leaves which is affected by the temperature and watering/rain.