GRAFTING OF TRIPLOID WATERMELON ON SQUASH AND GOURD ROOTSTOCKS

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  • 1 1Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, UF–IFAS 2686 SR 29 N, Immokalee, FL 34142
  • 2 2Syngenta Seed, Inc., Naples, FL 34114

Grafting of watermelon scions onto squash or pumpkin (Cucurbita), bottle gourd (Lagenaria), wax gourd (Benincasa), or watermelon (Citrullus) rootstocks is practiced in most of the major watermelon production regions of the world. Advantages of grafting are protection against soilborne diseases, resistance to nematodes, and overall increased vigor of plants resulting in higher yield and better fruit quality. Disadvantages include increased cost of seedling production and the potential of altered horticultural characteristics of cultivars used as scions. With problems associated with watermelon vine decline in recent years in Florida and the increasing cost of soil fumigants, the use of grafted watermelon seedlings should be explored. Four grafting techniques for watermelon are common: splice, side insertion, approach, and hole insertion. The approach graft, though labor intensive, doesn't require exacting control of temperature and humidity after making grafts and may be well suited to south Florida conditions. All other grafts require excellent control of the post-grafting environment and a careful transition from low light and high humidity to high light and low humidity. A preliminary evaluation of grafted and ungrafted plants during Fall 2005 compared `Tri-X 313', `Palomar', `Precious Petite', and `Petite Perfection' on several rootstocks. Most rootstock/scion combinations produced fruit of normal size, appearance (internal and external), and soluble solids content. Some combinations resulted in irregular, pumpkin-shaped fruit and slightly higher incidences of hollowheart.

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