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  • Author or Editor: Jonathan Edelson x
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Forty-one cultivars of triploid and diploid watermelons (Citrullus lanatus) were grown at Lane, Oklahoma in 2003. Seeds were placed in Jiffy-9 pellets in a greenhouse on 21 May. Fields were prepared with raised beds 1 m wide covered with black plastic. Plots were 3 m wide by 15 m long, with 4 replications, arranged as a randomized complete block. Seedlings were transplanted to the field on 4 June. From 4–9 June, rainfall occurred 5 days. Maximum soil temperatures at 5 cm, under bare soil, from 1–9 June were 34, 34, 35, 26, 22, 26, 31, 29, and 32 °C, respectively. On 9 June, 84% of the seedlings were dead. Lesions were observed on the roots and stems and isolations were made from symptomatic tissues. The predominant pathogen isolated from the seedlings was Pythium aphanidermatum. Some of the cultivars appear to have some degree of resistance to P. aphanidermatum. Mortality among the cultivars, averaged across all replications, ranged from 33% to 100%. The cultivars with the lowest mortality were “Tri-X Carousel” (33%), `Sunny' (40%), `WT-02-31' (53%), `Ole' (58%), and `Tri-X Palomar' (68%). New seeds were seeded in the greenhouse on 16 June, and transplanted to the field on June 30. The replacement seedlings were planted in the same field, in the same location as the previous plants. Maximum soil temperatures for the two week interval following the second planting ranged from 33 to 39 °C, with only one rain of 0.8 cm occurring 10 days after planting. There was no apparent plant loss due to P. aphidermatum in the second planting.

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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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Watermelon growers are advised to grow melons in a given field no more than 1 year out of 4. Bermudagrass pastures are abundant in the southern U.S., but ranchers are reluctant to destroy a pasture for 1 year and plant it with melons if they must then re-establish a sod. A project was designed to develop a system for growing watermelon in a permanent pasture with only a minimal amount of tillage, and without destroying the established forages in the pasture. The approach is to compare and evaluate several techniques for growing watermelons in strip-tilled areas within a permanent pasture. These techniques include cultivation, plastic mulches, and herbicides applied to 2-m strips separated by untilled bermudagrass. Research was done in 1996 at two university research centers in Oklahoma and Texas. The treatments with greatest watermelon yields, in decreasing order, were black polyethylene mulch, hand-weeded control, photodegradable mulch, biodegradable mulch, cultivation plus sethoxydim, sethoxydim alone, cultivation alone, and the weedy check. At harvest, 63% of the area in the cultivation alone treatment, 40% of the area in the plastic mulch treatment, and 1% of the area in the sethoxydim treatment were covered with a regrowth of bermudagrass. Forage was also collected from row areas of plots. Forage amounts, in decreasing order, were from cultivation alone, weedy check, sethoxydim alone, photodegradable mulch, polyethylene mulch, biodegradable mulch, cultivation plus sethoxydim, and the clean control.

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The increasing perception by consumers that organic food tastes better and is healthier continues to expand the demand for organically produced crops. The objective of these experiments was to investigate the impact of different weed control systems on yields of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus) varieties grown organically. Six watermelon varieties were transplanted at two locations (Lane and Center Point, Okla.). The six varieties included three seeded varieties (`Early Moonbeam', `Sugar Baby', and `Allsweet') and three seedless varieties (`Triple Crown', `Triple Prize', and `Triple Star'). The weed control system at Lane utilized black plastic mulch on the crop row, while the area between rows was cultivated to control weeds. The no-till organic system at Center Point used a mowed rye and vetch cover crop, hand weeding, and vinegar (5% acetic acid) for weed control. When averaged across watermelon varieties, Lane produced significantly more fruit per plant (4.2 vs. 2.3 fruit/plant), greater marketable yields (16.0 vs. 8.4 kg/plants), and higher average marketable weight per fruit (6.1 vs. 4.0 kg) than at Center Point. When comparing locations, four of six varieties had significantly greater number of fruit per plant and higher marketable yields at Lane than at Center Point. Except for `Early Moonbeam', all other varieties produced significantly heavier fruit at Lane than at Center Point. In contrast, the Center Point location produced a greater percentage of marketable fruit for all varieties except `Allsweet'. Fruit quality (lycopene and °Brix) was as good or greater when harvested from the weedier Center Point location.

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