(2) Icebox Watermelon Variety Trial in Western Washington

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  • 1 1Washington State University, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Vancouver, WA, 98665
  • | 2 2Washington State University, Extension

Icebox watermelons first appeared in the United States about 50 years ago. They weigh between 6 and 12 pounds and come in a variety of shapes and colors. With a rising interest in local production, organic produce, and direct marketing, farmers in Washington are looking to diversify crop varieties to meet these demands. Icebox watermelons offer a means of locally producing high-quality watermelons. In 2004 and 2005, we evaluated icebox watermelon varieties to determine which are most suitable for production in our region. In 2004, we evaluated 44 varieties of icebox watermelon and in 2005 we evaluated 100 varieties at WSU Vancouver REU. Varieties were seeded in the greenhouse mid-April and transplanted to the field by mid-June. The greenhouse and field were managed organically. The study design was a randomized complete-block with three replications. Plots were single rows, 6.1 m long, with seven plants per plot. Spacing was 1 m between plants and 3 m between rows. Plants were mulched with black plastic and drip-irrigated 2.5 cm per week. Melons were harvested twice weekly, from mid-August through mid-October. Fruit weight, number, and size were measured, and percentage of soluble solids was measured using a °Brix meter. General eating quality was also evaluated. Summaries of selected varieties will be presented here. To view other varieties included in the trial, see our website, http://agsyst.wsu.edu. Results of this study show significant differences among icebox watermelon varieties in total yield, number of fruit per plot, average fruit weight, number of days to harvest, and percentage of soluble solids. These preliminary findings indicate that more than 80 varieties of icebox watermelon can be grown productively in our region.

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