Differential Fruit Load in Melon (Cucumis melo L.) Affects Shoot and Root Growth, and Vine Decline Symptoms

in HortScience

The effect of zero, one, and two fruits per vine on plant growth and reaction to Monosporascus root rot/vine decline were investigated. In the first study, four cultivars with differing levels of tolerance were evaluated (`Primo', `Deltex', `Caravelle', `Magnum 45'). Vine decline ratings were taken weekly during the harvest period for 4 weeks. Treatments with no fruit showed delayed and less-severe vine decline symptoms. Temperature also effected vine decline symptom expression. In a Fall test, with lower temperatures during fruit maturity, symptoms were delayed in all treatments and often absent in treatments with no fruit load. Vine decline symptom expression is greatly effected by physiological (fruit load) and temperature stress. A subsequent study was conducted to more precisely quantify the effect of various fruit loads on shoot/root partitioning and vine decline symptoms. In addition to growth parameters root disease ratings were taken. `Caravelle', the most-susceptible genotype, was grown under differing fruit loads as mentioned above in Weslaco and Uvalde, Texas. As fruit load increased, root size decreased. Increased vine decline symptoms were observed under higher fruit loads. The implications on germplasm screening and breeding for resistance will be discussed.

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