Grafted transplants are widely used for watermelon culture in Korea mainly to reduce the yield and quality losses caused by soil-borne diseases. It is normal practice to cure the grafted transplants under high relative humidity (RH) and low photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) conditions for a few days after grafting to prevent the wilting of the transplants. Transpiration rate (TR) and net photosynthetic rate (NPR), however, could be suppressed under those environmental conditions. In the present study, TR and NPR of the grafted watermelon transplants were compared during graft union formation under 18 environmental conditions combining two air temperatures (20 and 28 °C), three RHs (60%, 80%, and 100%), and three PPF s (0, 100, and 200 μmol·m-2·s-1). Percentages of graft union formation and survival were also evaluated. TR and NPR dramatically decreased just after grafting but slowly recovered 2 to 3 days after grafting at 28 °C. The recovery was clearer at higher PPF and lower RH. On the other hand, the recovery of TR and NPR was not observed in 7 days after grafting at 20 °C. Differences in TR and NPR affected by RH were nonsignificant. Percentage of graft union formation was 98% when air temperature, RH, and PPF were 28 °C, 100%, and 100 μmol·m-2·s-1, respectively, which was the highest among all the treatments. Percentage of survival was over 90% when air temperature was 28 °C and RH was higher than 80% (when vapor pressure deficit was lower than 0.76 kPa). In addition, higher PPF enhanced TR and NPR and promoted rooting and subsequent growth of grafted transplants. Results suggest that the acclimation process for grafted watermelon transplants can be omitted by properly manipulating environmental factors during graft union formation.
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