Grafting is used in watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum and Nakai] production as a means to combat soilborne diseases. To support the development of new rootstock cultivars in the United States, we screened cucurbit germplasm accessions for resistance to verticillium wilt (caused by Verticillium dahliae Kleb.) and for compatibility as watermelon rootstocks. Screening was done using a field naturally infested with V. dahliae [5 and 7.5 colony-forming units (cfu)·g−1 soil in 2017 and 2018, respectively], and plants were inoculated at transplanting (1.5 and 104 cfu of V. dahliae per plant in 2017 and 2018, respectively). In 2017, 56 germplasm accessions from three genera commonly used as rootstocks, Cucurbita, Lagenaria, and Benincasa, were sourced from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Plant Germplasm System and area under the verticillium wilt (disease) progress curve (AUDPC) values ranged from 16 to 397. The 14 accessions with the lowest AUDPC values and good germination (>40%) were used as rootstocks along with the commercial rootstock cv. Tetsukabuto (control), and all were grafted with watermelon cv. Secretariat as the scion in 2018. Grafted plant survival rate was greatest for ‘Tetsukabuto’ (90%) and the accession PI 381840 (L. siceraria) (89%), and ranged from 22% to 85% for all other accessions. All grafted treatments that produced mature fruit in 2018 tended to flower at the same time as nongrafted ‘Secretariat’, with first male and female flowers occurring in 45 to 50 days and 44 to 51 days after transplanting, respectively. There were no significant differences in AUDPC values due to grafting or when accessions were compared with ‘Tetsukabuto’. Only six accessions produced mature fruit when grafted with ‘Secretariat’, indicating they were compatible for watermelon grafting. Fruit weight and number as well as total soluble solids, pH, lycopene content, rind firmness and thickness, and dry matter content were similar for all accessions and ‘Tetsukabuto’ grafted on ‘Secretariat’. Only fruit flesh firmness differed and was highest for ‘Secretariat’ grafted on ‘PI 491316’ and lowest for ‘Secretariat’ grafted on ‘PI 49174’. The six verticillium wilt-tolerant accessions that were compatible with watermelon could potentially be used as rootstocks or as sources of genetic resistance in rootstock breeding programs.
Abigail Attavar, Lydia Tymon, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, and Carol A. Miles
Pinki Devi, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, and Carol A. Miles
Separately, grafting and the use of plastic mulch can increase yield, quality, and early harvest of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), especially when plants are under biotic and/or abiotic stress. A 2-year field study was conducted to evaluate the combination of four different rootstocks and two types of plastic mulch (black and clear) on date of watermelon first flowering, fruit ripening, yield, and fruit quality when plants were exposed to Verticillium dahliae. Seedless watermelon cv. Secretariat was grafted onto rootstocks Lagenaria siceraria cv. Pelop, Benincasa hispida cv. Round, and two interspecific hybrid squash rootstocks Cucurbita maxima × C. moschata cvs. Super Shintosa and Tetsukabuto, with nongrafted ‘Secretariat’ as the control. Fruit were harvested 0, 7, and 14 days after both the leaflet and tendril attached to the fruit pedicel were completely dry (fruit considered to be physiologically mature). The area under the disease progress curve (AUDPC) values for verticillium wilt were not different for mulch type in either year, although the overall AUDPC value was greatly reduced in the four grafted treatments (227) compared with nongrafted (743). There was no difference in days to male or female flowering due to mulch type or year, and rootstock did not affect first flowering of male flowers. Female flowering was 14 and 11 days later in 2018 and 2019, respectively, for ‘Secretariat’ grafted onto bottle gourd ‘Round’ compared with ‘Secretariat’ grafted onto ‘Tetsukabuto’. Female flowering of ‘Secretariat’ on ‘Round’ was also 7 days later compared with nongrafted ‘Secretariat’ both years. However, days to first harvest was not different with mulch or rootstock and was 92 days after transplanting (DAT) in 2018 and 114 DAT in 2019. There was no difference in yield (fruit number and weight) due to year, harvest date, or mulch, but there was a difference due to grafting. ‘Secretariat’ grafted onto ‘Super Shintosa’ had the greatest total number and weight of fruit per plant (3.7 and 14.8 kg, respectively), and nongrafted ‘Secretariat’ had the lowest (0.7 and 3.2 kg, respectively). Fruit quality attributes hollow heart formation (rating 3.2/5 on average), hard seed count (6 on average), total soluble solids (11% on average), and lycopene content were not different among mulch type, rootstock treatment, or harvest date; however, lycopene content did differ due to year (52.44 and 32.51 µg·g−1 in 2018 and 2019, respectively). Flesh firmness was highest for watermelon grafted onto ‘Super Shintosa’ rootstock (6.7 N) and lowest for nongrafted watermelon (4.3 N). Overall, rootstocks reduced verticillium wilt severity and increased fruit yield whereas mulch had no effects, and 5 V. dahliae colony forming units (cfu)/g of soil may be the minimum level for impact on watermelon fruit yield.
Marlee A. Trandel, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, and Jonathan Schultheis
In triploid (seedless) watermelon [Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus (Thunb. Matsum. and Nakai)], hollow heart (HH) is a disorder that is expressed as a crack in the center of the fruit that expands to an open cavity. Although HH incidence and severity is part of a screening process for marketable watermelon fruit during cultigen evaluations, HH incidence is highly variable with growing season, even when the best cultural practices are used. Placental tissue firmness is also measured because firmness is related to the marketability of watermelon and may be related to HH. Genetic and environmental factors can influence watermelon HH development, including plant genetics, pollen amount and viability, pollinator activity, and temperature and rainfall fluctuations. We used seedless watermelon cultigen evaluation data collected over 3 years (2012–14) to determine the relationship between germplasm HH and tissue firmness. Transplanted watermelon representing 30 to 44 cultigens per year were grown at the Central Crops Research Station, Clayton, NC, and interplanted with pollenizers ‘Ace’ and/or ‘SP-6’. Harvested fruit were cut length-wise and rated for HH incidence and severity. Flesh firmness was determined by a handheld penetrometer at five locations in the flesh (stem end, top side, ground spot, blossom end, and heart). A common cultigen subset, consisting of 13 cultigens that were grown in all three experiments, was used for analysis of HH severity and incidence, and placental firmness. The presence of HH was negatively correlated with tissue firmness in both the large multiyear cultigen set (R 2 = −0.32; P = 0.0001) and the common cultigen set (R 2 = −0.78; P = 0.0001). Cultigens with lower watermelon tissue firmness values had higher HH incidence and severity. By using multiyear cultigen studies and logistic regression, we were able to detect trends for cultigen susceptibility to this highly variable disorder. Using logistic regression, the probability of HH development was highest for ‘Bold Ruler’, ‘Liberty’, and ‘Affirmed’, and lowest for ‘Maxima’ and ‘Captivation’. The identification of cultigens with a tendency for higher or lower rates of HH will be useful for further research of the causes of HH. Measurements of placental flesh firmness may be useful indicators of susceptible cultigens.
Fumiomi Takeda Takeda, Stan Hokanson*, John Enns, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, and Harry Swartz
`Chandler' strawberry plants were propagated in tissue culture and grown from April to August in a protected environment to produce stolons. July-harvested daughter plants were stuck in cell packs with rooting media and placed under mist sprinklers, or cold stored at 2 °C for 42 days. Among the July transplants, some were kept in the greenhouse until field planting (14 Sept.) and others were moved into a cold room on 14 August. Daughter plant size and position on the stolon affected rooting and quality of transplants. July-harvested daughter plants that were plugged and misted after being cold stored for 42 days developed fewer roots than daughter plants plugged immediately after detaching from mother plants in July or August. In the field, transplants produced from daughter plants harvested in July and cold stored for 42 days developed more stolons than transplants from July- and August-harvested daughters that were not exposed to cold storage treatments. Larger daughter plants produced more branch crowns than did smaller daughter plants during the fall. All transplants from daughter plants harvested in July and propagated without cold treatment bloomed by November. Fruit production ranged from 521 to 703 g per plant. `Chandler' plants from daughter plants that weighed 10 g produced 10% greater yield than those that weighed <1.0 g. Plants generated from daughter plants plugged in July produced 26% more fruit than those plants plugged in August. Greenhouse soilless systems can be used to grow `Chandler' mother plants for generating runner tips and transplants for the annual plasticulture in colder climates. `Chandler' plants produced in July can yield a late fall crop under high tunnels and more fruit in the spring than August-plugged transplants
Angela R. Davis, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, Richard Hassell, Amnon Levi, Stephen R. King, and Xingping Zhang
Vegetable grafting began in the 1920s using resistant rootstock to control soilborne diseases. This process is now common in Asia, parts of Europe, and the Middle East. In Japan and Korea, most of the cucurbits and tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) grown are grafted. This practice is rare in the United States, and there have been few experiments to determine optimal grafting production practices for different geographical and climatic regions in America. This is beginning to change as a result of the phase out of methyl bromide. The U.S. cucurbit and tomato industries are evaluating grafting as a viable option for disease control. Because reports indicate that type of rootstock alters yield and quality attributes of the scion fruit, some seed companies are investigating grafting as a means to improve quality. It has been reported that pH, flavor, sugar, color, carotenoid content, and texture can be affected by grafting and the type of rootstock used. Reports vary on whether grafting effects are advantageous or deleterious, but it is usually agreed that the rootstock/scion combination must be carefully chosen for optimal fruit quality. Additionally, it is important to study rootstock/scion combinations under multiple climatic and geographic conditions because many rootstocks have optimal temperature and moisture ranges. This report gives an overview of the effect of grafting on vegetable quality.
Henry Taber, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, Shanshan Li, Wendy White, Steven Rodermel, and Yang Xu
The purpose of this experiment was to determine the response of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) cultivars with fruit of average and high lycopene to increased K fertilization. The field experiment was designed as a factorial, split-plot, randomized complete block with four replications. The main plot consisted of K rates ranging from 0 to 372 kg·ha−1 K as KCl, and the subplot was cultivar (‘Mountain Spring’ or the high-lycopene Florida hybrid, ‘Fla. 8153’). The soil type was a well-drained, central Iowa loam with a soil test level considered low. The soil K application effect on total marketable fruit yield was linear (P < 0.001, Y = 53 Mg·ha−1 + 0.084x, r2 = 0.51) with both cultivars responding similarly. Fruit K analysis indicated a linear response to fertilization across four harvest dates, from 1236 to 1991 mg·kg−1, fresh weight basis. Harvest date had no effect on fruit lycopene concentration, but there was a significant (P = 0.006) interaction of K fertilization rate and cultivar. Overall, ‘Fla. 8153’ contained 9.5 mg·kg−1 more lycopene in fruit tissue than ‘Mountain Spring’. ‘Mountain Spring’ lycopene concentration was not enhanced by higher K fertilization (44.2 mg·kg−1). ‘Fla. 8153’ lycopene concentration increased 21.7% at the highest K rate compared with lower rates (62.9 vs. 51.7 mg·kg−1, respectively). A controlled greenhouse study in the fall of 2005 with the same cultivars indicated similar results. Fruit K concentration for ‘Fla. 8153’ was significantly (P < 0.01) correlated to the fruit carotenoids, phytoene and phytofluene, indicating a possible role for K in one of the enzymes that synthesize phytoene. In the field and greenhouse studies, increasing fruit K concentration in the high-lycopene ‘Fla. 8153’ depressed fruit β-carotene by 53%. These results indicate that K fertilization can affect carotenoid biosynthesis, and the response of tomato to a high K rate is genotype dependent.
Christine M. Bradish, Gad G. Yousef, Guoying Ma, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, and Gina E. Fernandez
High tunnels have been widely adopted for red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) production in the United States to extend the harvest season and increase yields. In this study, effects of high tunnel production on contents of plant secondary metabolites (anthocyanins, carotenoids, tocopherols, and ellagitannins) in red raspberry fruit were determined for three fall-fruiting cultivars (Autumn Britten, Caroline, and Nantahala) grown at three locations in North Carolina under field and high tunnel cultivation systems. Cultivar was the primary contributing factor to variation in phytochemicals, with minor effects of location and production system. The anthocyanin cyanidin-3-glucoside and the carotenoids α-carotene, β-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin were higher in fruit produced in field compared with tunnel cultivation (P < 0.01). Accumulation of total anthocyanins and tocopherols in fruit were unaffected by high tunnel cultivation in comparison with traditional field cultivation. Carotenoid content varied by genotype and production system. ‘Autumn Britten’ and ‘Caroline’ showed no difference, but were higher than ‘Nantahala’ for α-carotene, β-carotene, 9-cis-β-carotene, and lutein + zeaxanthin (P < 0.0001). Phytochemical differences among field and tunnel produced fruit have important implications for breeding with increased nutritional value in mind, and also the understanding of the relationships of plant pigments to light and temperature.
Josh B. Henry, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, Ingram McCall, and Brian E. Whipker
Phosphorus (P) deficiency commonly results in the development of red-to-purple coloration in plant foliage, typically attributed to anthocyanins. Betacyanins are a red pigment found in some plant species that do not produce anthocyanins, including Alternanthera sp. This study was conducted to investigate the effects of P nutrition on the betacyanin concentration and subsequent foliar coloration of ‘Purple Prince’, ‘Brazilian Red Hots’, and ‘Little Ruby’ alternanthera (Alternanthera brasiliana). The purpose of this study was to determine whether P fertilization management could enhance the coloration and aesthetic appeal of alternanthera. Custom fertilizers provided P concentrations of 0, 2.5, 5, 10, and 20 mg·L−1 P. One-half of the plants from each P concentration were restricted to 0 mg·L−1 P 1 month after transplant to determine whether adequate size could be attained before withholding P. Differences in P response were observed among cultivars for hue, betacyanin content, and plant size. Concentrations ≤5 mg·L−1 P resulted in plants that were more compact in terms of plant height and diameter, had deeper red foliage coloration, and greater foliar betacyanins compared with plants grown with greater P concentrations. Plants initially grown with 5 or 10 mg·L−1 P attained marketable size before P restriction and developed more red pigmentation compared with plants grown with P for the remaining duration of the study. Regression analysis demonstrated height was maximized with 3 to 8 mg·L−1 P, diameter with 4.1 to 8.4 mg·L−1 P, and branching with 10.0 mg·L−1 P. Foliar betacyanin concentrations were greatest in plants grown without P, reaching 269 mg/100 g fresh weight, whereas plants grown with 10 or 20 mg·L−1 P were 95% less (averaged ≈13 mg/100 g fresh weight). This study demonstrates that P restriction can benefit the aesthetic appeal of alternanthera and provides the first confirmation that P nutrition is associated with betacyanin accumulation.
Angela R. Davis, Charles L. Webber III, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, Julie Collins, and Vincent M. Russo
Cultural practices have been reported to affect quality and phytonutrient content of watermelon. Knowing which varieties perform best under various production systems, and how these systems affect quality, yield, and phytonutrient content, is imperative to ensure high quality and yield. There is limited information on how watermelon [Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai] varieties perform when grown with organic practices. Production characteristics of six watermelon varieties from certified organic seed sources were compared under high-(black plastic and mechanical cultivation for weed control) and low-input (no-till) organic culture. The high-input method utilized black plastic mulch and mechanical cultivation for weed control. The low-input utilized no-till planting. `Triple Star' was the most productive seedless variety in terms of number of fruit and marketable yield when data were combined across locations. `Early Moonbeam' produced the largest number of fruit, and the smallest fruit, of the seeded varieties. `Allsweet', a seeded variety, had the best marketable yield due to its larger size. `Triple Star' had the best quality (lycopene and °Brix content) when data were combined across locations. Among the seeded varieties, `Allsweet' had the best quality at both locations; however, average lycopene content on a per-fruit basis under low input production was not significantly different when compared to `Sugar Baby'. High-input production methods almost doubled the number of fruit produced for all varieties, producing greater yields, and heavier average fruit weights, but lower °Brix and lycopene content compared to the low-input production method.
Angela R. Davis, Charles L. Webber III, Wenge Liu, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, Amnon Levi, and Stephen King
High-quality, high-phytonutrient watermelons [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb.), Matsum & Nakai] have strong market opportunities. To produce highly nutritious fruit in a seedless triploid market, the nature of phytonutrient accumulation as affected by ploidy must be understood. The present study performed on six field-grown watermelon diploid (2n) inbred lines, their induced autotetraploids (4n), and autotriploids (3n) determined the importance of ploidy on quality and nutritional content. Lycopene, total soluble solids (TSS), L-citrulline (hereafter referred to as citrulline), glutathione (GSH), weight, width, and length were measured in ripe fruit from one location. Our findings contradict some previous manuscripts, which did not use diploid inbred lines and their induced autoploidy relatives. Of the traits we analyzed that did not have a family-by-ploidy interaction (citrulline, GSH, weight, and width), we determined citrulline levels were not significantly affected by ploidy in five of six families nor was there a significant correlation when all family’s citrulline values were averaged. Previous studies on field-grown fruit that did not use autoploidy lines suggested triploid fruit had more citrulline than diploid fruit. GSH was higher in autotriploid than in diploid or autotetraploid (95.0 vs. 66.9 or 66.7 μg·g−1 GSH, respectively). Additionally, we found an association with higher GSH in larger fruit. Autotriploid fruit were, in general, heavier and wider than diploid and autotetraploid fruit, and autotetraploid fruit were generally smaller than diploid fruit. Of the traits we analyzed that had a family by ploidy interaction (lycopene, TSS, and length), we determined within four families, ploidy affected lycopene concentration, but whether this interaction is positive or negative was family-dependent. These data suggest the triploid state alone does not give fruit higher lycopene concentrations. The mean TSS was higher in autotetraploid than in autotriploid, which was again higher than in diploid fruit averaged across families (10.5%, 10.2%, and 9.5% TSS, respectively); there was a family × ploidy interaction so the significance of this increase is affected by the triploid’s parents. Lycopene and TSS had a slight positive correlation. Four of six families showed no statistical correlation between ploidy and length, and although mean length across family demonstrated smaller tetraploid fruit, the family-by-ploidy interaction demonstrates that this observation is family-dependent. Length and width correlate well with weight when combining data for all ploidy levels and when analyzing each ploidy separately. Length correlates more closely with width in autotriploid fruit than in diploid or autotetraploid fruit.