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X.P. Zhang, B.B. Rhodes, W.V. Baird, H.T. Skorupska, and W.C. Bridges

Hybrid seed production can be facilitated by using male sterility coupled with a seedling marker. This research was initiated to combine the ms male sterility and dg delayed-green seedling marker into watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai] lines. Male-sterile plants of the male-sterile line G17AB were crossed with plants of delayed-green breeding line Pale90, which has yellow cotyledons and pale-green, newly developed, true leaves. The double-recessive recombinants, male sterile and delayed green, from the F2 population were backcrossed to the male-fertile plants of G17AB. The pedigree method was used for selection in the progenies. The segregation ratios obtained from F2 and BC1F2 populations suggest that the male-sterile and delayed-green traits are inherited independently and that delayed green is inherited as a single recessive nuclear gene. Two male-sterile watermelon lines with delayed-green seedling marker have been developed. These lines will provide a convenient way to introduce male sterility and the delayed-green seedling marker into various genetic backgrounds. These two lines can be used for testing the efficiency of a new, hybrid, watermelon, seed production system.

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M.S. Stanghellini, J.T. Ambrose, and J.R. Schultheis

The number of honey bees (Apis mellifera L.) continues to decline due to parasitic mite pests and other factors. Honey bees and bumble bees (Bombus impatiens Cresson) were therefore compared for their effects on the seed set of watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai] in a 2-year field experiment. The experiment was a 2 x 4 + 2 factorial, comparing bee type (honey bee or bumble bee) at four visitation levels (1, 6, 12, and 18 bee visits) to pistillate flowers, with two controls: a no-visit treatment and an open-pollinated treatment. Bee visitation level had a strong positive influence on seed set (P ≤ 0.0001). All flowers bagged to prevent insect visitation aborted, demonstrating the need for active pollen transfer between staminate and pistillate watermelon flowers. Flowers visited by B. impatiens consistently contained more seed than those visited by A. mellifera, when compared at equal bee visitation levels (P ≤ 0.0001). We conclude that bumble bees have great potential to serve as a supplemental pollinator for watermelon when honey bees available for rental are in limited supply.

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Timothy L. Grey, David C. Bridges, and D. Scott NeSmith

Field studies were conducted in 1993, 1994, and 1995 to determine tolerance of seeded and transplanted watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum and Nak.] to clomazone, ethalfluralin, and pendimethalin using method of stand establishment (directseeded vs. transplanted) and time of herbicide application [preplant soil incorporated (PPI), preplant to the surface (PP), or postplant to the surface (POP)] as variables. Yield and average fruit weight in plots with clomazone were equal to or greater than those in control plots for the 3-year study regardless of method of application. Bleaching and stunting were evident with clomazone in early-season ratings, but injury was transient and did not affect quality or yield. Of the three herbicides, ethalfluralin PPI resulted in the greatest injury, stand reduction, and yield reduction of the three herbicides. Pendimethalin (PPI, PP, or POP) reduced yield of direct-seeded but not of transplanted watermelon. Chemical names used: 2-[(-2-chlorophenyl)methyl]-4, 4-dimethyl-3-isoxazolidinone (clomazone); N-ethyl-N-(2-methyl-2-propenyl)-2,6-dinitro-4-(trifluoromethyl) benzenamine (ethalfluralin); N-(1-ethylopropyl)-3,4-dimethyl-2,6-dinitrobenzenamine (pendimethalin).

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X.P. Zhang, B.B. Rhodes, W.V. Baird, W.C. Bridges, and H.T. Skorupska

This research was conducted to develop genic male-sterile lines of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus Matsum & Nakai) homozygous for the juvenile albino (ja) seedling marker. Male-sterile plants (msms) of the genic male-sterile line G17AB were crossed with a Dixielee plant that was heterozygous for the ja locus. Male-fertile, juvenile albino recombinants of the F2 progeny were self-pollinated, resulting in F3 progeny. The male-sterile normal green recombinants of the F2 progeny were crossed with an F1 hybrid plant with genotype MsmsJaja, and three populations (93JMSB-1, -2, and -3) were obtained from these crosses. Juvenile albino recombinants were confined to 93JMSB-1. Of the juvenile albino plants of 93JMSB-1, male-sterile plants were sib-crossed with male-fertile plants, resulting in 93JMSB-1-1. Progeny of 93JMSB-1-1 was homozygous for ja and segregated for ms in a 127 male-sterile: 128 male-fertile ratio, fitting a 1:1 ratio. The male-sterile juvenile albino plants of F3 were crossed with male-fertile juvenile albino plants of 93JMSB-1, resulting in 93JMSF3-1 and -2. Plants 93JMSF3-1 and -2 were homozygous for ja but segregated for ms at 10 male-sterile: 13 male-fertile and 15 male-sterile: 19 male-fertile for 93JMSF3-1 and 93JMSF3-2, respectively, fitting the 1:1 ratio. These three genic male-sterile lines with the ja seedling marker provide valuable germplasm for introducing ms and ja genes into diverse genetic backgrounds and for studying cross-pollination and gene flow in watermelon populations.

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Jian Fang, Frank Moore, Eric Roos, and Christina Walters

Seed moisture content (MC) has been considered the most important factor controlling physiological reactions in seeds, and MC changes with relative humidity (RH) and temperature (T). This relationship is revealed by studying the interaction of RH and T at equilibrium. Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.), maize (Zea mays L.), onion (Allium cepa L.), pea (Pisum sativum L.), and watermelon (Citrullus lanatus M. & N.) seeds were equilibrated over sulfuric acid (1% RH) and various saturated salt solutions (5.5% to 93% RH) at temperatures from 5 to 50 °C. Best-fit subset models were selected from the complete third-order model MC = β0 + β1 *RH + β2 *T + β3 *RH2 + β4 *T2 + β5 *RH*T + β6 *RH3 + β7 *T3 + β8 *RH*T2 + β9 *RH2*T, using Mallows' minimum Cp as the selection criterion. All six best subset models (R 2, 0.98 to 0.99) had the same functional form, MC = β0 + β1 *RH + β2 *T + β3 *RH2 + β5 *RH*T + β6 *RH3 + β9 *RH2*T. Coefficients had essentially the same respective values among all species except onion and pea, for which some coefficients were statistically different from those of the other species (P ≤ 0.05). All models indicated that seed MC increased as RH increased and decreased as T increased; but RH had the greater influence. The inverse relationship between seed MC and T, although slight, was evident in the response surfaces. The interaction effect of RH and T on MC was significant at P ≤0.001. These results suggest that orthodox seed species respond similarly to T and RH. This in turn suggests that a common model could be developed and used for optimizing seed storage environments.

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M.S. Stanghellini, J.R. Schultheis, and J.T. Ambrose

Very little is known about the rate at which pollen grains are mobilized within insect-pollinated crop systems, and this is especially true the for commercial production of field-grown cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.), monoecious muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.), and triploid watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai]. The rates of pollen depletion for these crops were therefore investigated on plots simulating commercial crop production using a mixed honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) and bumble bee (Bombus impatiens Cresson) pollinator complex. At anthesis, staminate cucumber, muskmelon, and watermelon flowers contained on average 10539, 11176, and 30739 pollen grains/flower, respectively. At the time flowers closed in the early afternoon (1300 to 1400 hr), only 61% of the total pollen produced had been removed from staminate cucumber flowers, 44% to 62% from muskmelon, and 81% from watermelon flowers. The results suggest that total pollen production in these crops may not necessarily reflect total pollen availability to floral visitors (bees). However, of the total amount of pollen actually removed per flower, >57% occurred during the 2 h following flower anthesis of cucumber and muskmelon, and >77% occurred during the 2 h following flower anthesis of watermelon. Thus, most of the accessible pollen was removed shortly after anthesis, which is when these crops are most receptive to pollination. Nonviable triploid and viable diploid watermelon pollen were removed at similar rates (P = 0.4604). While correlation analyses were not possible for the influence of variable bee abundance on pollen depletion rates, higher bee populations in one year appeared to increase the rate at which pollen grains were removed from staminate flowers.

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M.S. Stanghellini, J.T. Ambrose, and J.R. Schultheis

The effectiveness of bumble bees, Bombus impatiens Cresson, and honey bees, Apis mellifera L., on the pollination of cucumber, Cucumis sativus L., and watermelon, Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai, was compared under field conditions. Comparisons were based on fruit abortion rates and seed set as influenced by bee type (honey bee or bumble bee) and the number of bee visits to treatment flowers (1, 6, 12, and 18 bee visits), plus two controls: a no-visit treatment and an open-pollinated (unrestricted visitation) treatment. For both crops, an increased number of bee visits had a strong positive effect on fruit and seed set. All cucumber and watermelon flowers bagged to prevent insect visitation aborted, demonstrating the need for active transfer of pollen between staminate and pistillate flowers. Bumble bee-visited flowers consistently had lower abortion rates and higher seed sets in the cucumber and watermelon studies than did honey bee-visited flowers when compared at the same bee visitation level. Only slight differences in fruit abortion rates were detected between bee types in the watermelon study. However, abortion rates for bumble bee-visited flowers were consistently less than those for honey bee-visited flowers when compared at equal bee visitation levels, with one exception at the 12 bee visit level. As the number of honey bee colonies continues to decline due to parasitic mite pests and based on the data obtained, we conclude that bumble bees have a great potential to serve as a supplemental pollinator for cucumbers, watermelons, and possibly other vine crops, when honey bees available for rental are in limited supply.

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Warren Roberts, James Shrefler, James Duthie, Jonathan Edelson, Bob Cartwright, and Nancy Roe

We conducted several experiments to determine the best system for production of spring cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. Capitata group) with conservation tillage (CT) in the southern plains of the United States. Rye (Secale cereale L.) was selected as the best cover crop to cover the soil in a short time. Raised beds were formed in the fall and planted with rye. With most studies, the rye was allowed to remain on the soil surface rather than being tilled into the soil. Planting densities, rates of nitrogen fertilizer, and herbicide materials were evaluated to determine the best system for cabbage production. In each study, various cover crop practices were compared with bare soil production systems. Soil erosion was reduced by the use of rye cover crops. Cabbage was produced in the CT system, but cabbage yields were higher in bare soil plots than in the rye-covered plots. We are also in the process of developing a system of CT that involves permanent bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] pastures and watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai]. This system allows both crops to be grown simultaneously on the same land.

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A. Graves Gillaspie Jr. and Robert L. Jarret

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Jonathan R. Schultheis and Robert J. Dufault

Pretransplant nutritional conditioning (PNC) of transplants during greenhouse production may improve recovery from transplanting stress and enhance earliness and yield of watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb.) Matsum. & Nakai]. Two greenhouse experiments (Expts. 1 and 2) and field experiments in South Carolina and North Carolina (Expt. 3) were conducted to evaluate N and P PNC effects on watermelon seedling growth and their effects on fruit yield and quality. `Queen of Hearts' triploid and `Crimson Sweet' diploid watermelon seedlings were fertilized with N from calcium nitrate at 25, 75, or 225 mg·liter–1 and P from calcium phosphate at 5, 15, or 45 mg·liter–1. In the greenhouse, most variation in the shoot fresh and dry weights, leaf count, leaf area, transplant height, and root dry weight in `Queen of Hearts' and `Crimson Sweet' was attributed to N. Cultivar interacted with N, affecting all seedling growth variables, but not leaf area in Expt. 2. To a lesser extent, in Expt. 1, but not in Expt. 2, P interacted with cultivar, N, or cultivar × N and affected shoot fresh and dry weights, leaf count and leaf area. In the field, transplant shock increased linearly with N, regardless of cultivar or field location. The effect of PNC on plant growth diminished as the growing season progressed. For both cultivars at both locations, N and P PNC did not affect time to first staminate flower, fruit set, fruit width or length, soluble solids concentration, or yield. Vining at Charleston for both cultivars was 2 days earlier when N was at 75 rather than 25 mg·liter–1, without further change with the high N rate. At Clinton, the first pistillate flower was delayed linearly the higher the N rate for `Crimson Sweet'. At Charleston, hollow heart in the `Queen of Hearts' increased nearly 3 times when N PNC rate was tripled (from 75 or 225 mg·liter–1), while N had no effect on hollow heart in `Crimson Sweet'. In contrast, at Clinton, hollow heart in either cultivar was affected by P PNC, not N. PNC with 25N–5P (in mg·liter–1) can be used to reduce seedling growth and produce a more compact plant for easier handling, yet not reduce fruit quality or yield.