Yield Response of Watermelon to Plant Density

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  • 1 Oklahoma State University, P.O. Box 128, Lane, OK 74555

In each of seven field experiments, density of watermelon (cultivar Sugar Baby) plants was varied over the range 1000-9000 plants/ha by varying the distance between plants in single-row, replicate plots. Per unit area, reproductive biomass and marketable yield each increased linearly with density. An upper limit on these response variables at high density was not detected in any experiment. The rate of increase per 1000 plants/ha ranged from 1.1 to 3.2 Mg·ha-1, for reproductive biomass, and from 0.5 to 1.1 Mg·ha-1, for marketable yield. The linear effect of density explained >90% of the increase in reproductive biomass in most experiments. The effect on marketable yield was more variable because the marketable fraction of reproductive biomass often was highly variable. In most experiments, the marketable fraction did not vary systematically with density. The linear rate of change in the marketable fraction with density did not exceed 3% per 1000 plants/ha on average in any experiment. Intraspecific competition intensified rapidly as density was increased in some experiments. Intensity of competition appeared to vary among environments.

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