Genotypic Variability in Staminate Flower and Pollen Grain Production of Diploid Watermelons

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  • 1 Department of Extension Specialists, Rutgers University, Marucci Center, 125A Lake Oswego Road, Chatsworth, NJ 08019
  • 2 Department of Horticultural Science, Box 7609, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695

In 1999 and 2000, a total of 27 diploid watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai] cultivars and advanced breeding lines (hereafter referred to as cultigens) 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 × pollen grains produced per flower) differed greatly among cultigens (for all tests, P < 0.01). Staminate flower production by cultigens differed by year (P < 0.0029) and days within years (P = 0.0225), but pollen production between years by cultigens was stable (P = 0.4841). 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 choosing a good diploid pollenizer for triploid watermelon production.

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