Genotypic Variability in Staminate Flower and Pollen Grain Production of Diploid Watermelons [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai]

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  • 1 Rutgers Univ., Extension Specialists, Chatsworth, NJ 08019
  • 2 North Carolina State Univ., Horticultural Science, Raleigh, NC 27695

In 1999 and 2000, a total of 28 diploid watermelon cultigens (released cultivars and advanced breeding lines) were evaluated for staminate flower and pollen grain production to assess their potential to serve as pollenizers (pollen source plants) in triploid watermelon production systems. Male reproductive output (staminate flower and pollen production) was quantified during the peak flowering and fruit setting phase of the cultigens under field conditions. The number of staminate flowers produced per plant per day, number of pollen grains produced per flower, and total number of pollen grains produced per plant per day (staminate flowers per plant x pollen grains produced per flower) differed greatly between cultigens (for all tests, P < 0.01). Staminate flower production by cultigens differed by year (P < 0.0003) and days-within-years (P = 0.0094), but pollen production between years by cultigens was stable (P = 0.3845). Total male reproductive output ranged from 134,206 pollen grains per plant per day for `Jamboree' to 321,905 pollen grains per plant per day for `Summer Flavor 500'. These studies demonstrate the genotypic variability in watermelon male reproductive output potential, and may assist growers in selecting an optimal diploid pollenizer for triploid watermelon production.

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