in HortScience

Market demand for diploid fruit has been declining over the past ten years, especially the past three years. Thus, the watermelon industry is looking for ways to produce triploid fruit more efficiently. Several companies have developed pollinizers for planting in-row so as not to take up space like a commercial diploid cultivar. The objective of our experiment was to determine the effects of `Companion' and `SP-1' pollinizers on triploid yield compared with a traditional diploid pollinizer which until recently were routinely sold to grocery chain stores. The experimental locations were Bradenton, Florida and Kinston, NC. Treatments included two triploid cultivars; Tri-X-313 (Syngenta, Rogers Brand Seeds) and Olympia (Seminis Seed Co.), and three pollinizers; `Companion' (Seminis Seed Co.), `SP-1' (Syngenta, Rogers Brand Seeds), and `Summer Flavor 800' (Abbott & Cobb Seed Co.). A seventh treatment included `Tri × 313' in which no pollinizer was planted next to the triploid cultivar. `Companion' was interplanted every two triploid plants. `SP-1' was interplanted every three triploid plants, and `Summer Flavor 800' planted every third hill. All fruit were harvested when ripe and each watermelon was weighed. Results in the Florida location were compromised due to the close proximity of pollen from adjacent watermelon cultivar trials. In North Carolina, some pollen movement did occur between treatment plots as evidenced by fruit set in the `Tri-X-313' plots which did not contain a pollinizer. Yields; however, were 25% to 33% of those treatments which contained a pollinizer. `Tri × 313' yielded greater fruit numbers but individual fruit weights were less than those harvested from `Olympia'. Early fruit yield was similar regardless of pollinizer, while late yields were greater using `SP-1' rather than `Companion' or `Summer Flavor 800'. Cumulative yields (three total harvests) were highest with `SP-1' than the other pollinizers. The use of `SP-1' provided the greatest potential for improved yields over traditional diploid pollinizers.

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