Short-term Cyclic Cold Temperature Stress on Watermelon Yield

in HortScience

Watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb) Matsum. & Nakai.] seedlings may be repeatedly exposed to temperatures alternating between almost freezing and optimum soon after field transplanting. `Carnival', `Crimson Sweet', `Millionaire' and `Crimson Trio' watermelon transplants were exposed to cold temperature stress at 2 ± 1 °C in a walk-in cooler and then to 29 ± 5 °C in a greenhouse immediately before field planting to simulate temperature alternations that may occur after field transplanting. Cold-stressed transplants were field planted after all risk of ambient cold stress passed. In 1998, transplants were exposed to 2 °C from 9 hours to 54 hours, and in 1999 from 9 to 81 hours. Early yields of all cultivars, except Carnival, significantly decreased with increasing hours of cold stress in both years. Total yields of `Carnival' decreased linearly in both years with a 10% yield reduction occurring from 14 to 15 hours of cold stress. `Crimson Sweet' yields were reduced in 1999 only, with 16 hours of cold stress reducing yield 10%.

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