In-row Spacing Influences Triploid Watermelon Yield and Crop Value

in HortTechnology

Triploid watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), commonly called seedless watermelon, is increasing in popularity and market share. The optimum in-row spacing of triploid watermelon has not been studied previously. Triploid watermelon `Crimson Jewel' and `Honeyheart' were grown with drip-irrigation and black plastic mulch at 1-, 2-, 4-, 6-, and 8-ft (0.3-, 0.6-, 1.2-, 1.8-, and 2.4-m) in-row spacings in 1996 and 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 7-, and 8-ft. (0.6-, 0.9-, 1.2-, 1.5-, 1.8-, 2.1-, and 2.4-m) spacings in 1997 to determine the effect of in-row plant spacing on fruit yield. Marketable yield of `Crimson Jewel' was not affected by in-row spacing while narrower in-row spacing resulted in greater `Honeyheart' yield both years. For both cultivars, narrower spacing resulted in the highest number of fruit per acre, but primarily more extrasmall and small fruit. Fruit number per plant, fruit weight per plant, and individual fruit weight were higher at wider spacings, and yield per acre was lower. The data suggest that triploid watermelon yield, fruit weight and number can be adjusted by in-row spacing. Narrower in-row spacing can maximize yields, depending on the specific grower's cultural practices. In wider in-row spacings, the yield of medium and large fruit is maintained with a subsequent decrease in extra small and small fruit. Gross returns per acre were only different for farmers' market prices, not wholesale, and net returns were not significantly influenced by in-row spacing.

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