Plant Spacing Influences Watermelon Yield and Yield Components

in HortScience

Watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum & Nakai] cultivars StarBrite and Crimson Sweet were grown during 1991 and 1992 in rows 1.5 m apart at plant spacings of 0.9, 1.5, or 2.2 m. Total fruit yield, marketable fruit yield, fruit-weight distribution, and estimated gross returns were determined for each spacing treatment. Total and marketable fruit yields were greater overall for `StarBrite' than for `Crimson Sweet'. Except for 1991 `Crimson Sweet' yields, marketable fruit yields per unit land area increased 29% to 34% as plant spacing decreased from 2.2 to 0.9 m. The yield component contributing the most to increased yields with high-density plantings was increased fruit count per unit land area. Average fruit weight responded only slightly to decreased plant spacing. Fruit-weight distribution on a relative frequency scale was stable regardless of plant spacing or production year. The potential for increasing gross returns per unit land area exists by increasing watermelon plant populations beyond the current Georgia recommendation of 2500 to 3000 plants/ha.

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