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  • Author or Editor: Todd C. Wehner x
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In many cases, measurement of cucumber fruit weight in small research plots involves more labor and resources than just counting the number of fruit per plot. Therefore, plant breeders are interested in an efficient method for estimating fruit weight per grade (early, marketable, and cull) based on fruit number and total fruit weight. We evaluated the cucumber germplasm collection of 810 plant introduction accessions (supplied by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Regional Plant Introduction Station at Ames, Iowa) along with seven check cultivars for yield. Correlations were calculated for all pairs of fruit number and fruit weight combinations for each grade. In general, the lowest correlations were observed between the fruit weight of each grade (early, marketable, and cull) and total fruit weight or number per plot. High correlations were observed for fruit weight and fruit number within each grade (early, marketable, and cull). An efficient method for estimating fruit weight per hectare of early, marketable, and cull grades is to count total, early, and cull fruit, then measure total fruit weight. Our results showed that the fruit weight of each grade (early, marketable, and cull) was best estimated using the fruit number of that grade (early, marketable, and cull) along with the total fruit weight and total fruit number.

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Gummy stem blight (Didymella blight), caused by Didymella bryoniae (Auersw.) Rehm and its anamorph Phoma cucurbitacearum (Fr.:Fr.) Sacc., is the second most important disease of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) in North Carolina after root knot nematodes Meloidogyne sp. Both Didymella blight and Phoma blight, caused by Phoma exigua Desm., have similar symptoms and control practices, and are generally referred to as gummy stem blight. In order to determine whether resistance existed to North Carolina isolates of D. bryoniae, 851 cultigens [cultivars, breeding lines, and plant introduction (PI) lines] were evaluated in the field. Plants were inoculated with one selected isolate (highly pathogenic in preliminary greenhouse tests) at the vine tip-over stage. They were rated for foliage lesion size and number on a 0 to 9 visual scale (0 = no disease, 9 = plant killed) and average ratings for 10 plants per plot were analyzed. The ratings ranged from 2.0 (highly resistant) to 8.5 (highly susceptible) with a mean of 6.2. The most resistant breeding lines and PI accessions were PI 200815, PI 390243, `LJ 90430', PI 279469, and PI 432855. The most resistant cultivars were `Homegreen #2', `Little John', `Transamerica', and `Poinsett 76'. The most susceptible cultigens in the study were PI 288238, PI 357843, PI 357865, and PI 167134. Two popular cultivars in North Carolina, `Calypso' and `Dasher II', were moderately resistant.

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The relationships between fruit yield and yield components in several cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) populations were investigated as well as how those relationships changed with selection for improved fruit yield. In addition, the correlations between fruit yield and yield components were partitioned into partial regression coefficients (path coefficients and indirect effects). Eight genetically distinct pickling and slicing cucumber populations, differing in fruit yield and quality, were previously subjected to modified half-sib family recurrent selection. Eight families from three selection cycles (early, intermediate, late) of each population were evaluated for yield components and fruit number per plant in four replications in each of two testing methods, seasons, and years. Since no statistical test for comparing the magnitudes of two correlations was available, a correlation (r) of 0.7 to 1.0 or –0.7 to –1.0 (r 2 ≥ 0.49) was considered strong, while a correlation of –0.69 to 0.69 was considered weak. The number of branches per plant had a direct positive effect on, and was correlated (r = 0.7) with the number of total fruit per plant over all populations, cycles, seasons, years, plant densities, and replications. The number of nodes per branch, the percentage of pistillate nodes, and the percentage of fruit set were less correlated (r < |0.7|) with total fruit number per plant (fruit yield) than the number of branches per plant. Weak correlations between yield components and fruit yield often resulted from weak correlations among yield components. The correlations among fruit number traits were generally strong and positive (r ≥ 0.7). Recurrent selection for improved fruit number per plant maintained weak path coefficients and correlations between yield components and total fruit number per plant. Selection also maintained weak correlations among yield components. However, the correlations and path coefficients of branch number per plant on the total fruit number became more positive (r = 0.67, 0.75, and 0.82 for early, intermediate, and late cycles, respectively) with selection. Future breeding should focus on selecting for the number of branches per plant to improve total fruit number per plant.

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Plant breeders often measure selection progress for yield by measuring the hybrid performance (combining ability) of a breeding line. This information is used to develop breeding lines with higher combining ability. The objectives of this study were to measure the specific combining ability for yield traits over three selection cycles from four slicing cucumber populations with `Poinsett 76', a popular slicing cucumber cultivar; and to determine the change in specific combining ability for yield traits in four populations improved through recurrent selection. Four slicing cucumber populations, North Carolina wide base slicer (NCWBS), medium base slicer (NCMBS), elite slicer 1 (NCES 1), and Beit Alpha 1 (NCBA1), were developed and improved through modified half-sib selection from 1983 to 1992 to improve yield per se and fruit quality in each population. Eleven families were randomly selected from each of three selection cycles (early, intermediate, advanced) from each population and were hybridized to `Poinsett 76'. Twenty-three seeds from each cross were planted in 1.2-m plots in Spring and Summer 1995. When 10% of fruit were oversized (>50 mm in diameter), plants were sprayed with paraquat to defoliate them and to simulate once-over harvest. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with 22 replications per population arranged in a split plot with the four populations as whole plots and the three cycles as subplots. The combining ability for early and marketable yield of NCWBS and NCBA1 increased as the number of selection cycles increased. Conversely, selection for higher yield per se decreased the combining ability of the NCES 1 population for early and marketable yield. The NCBA1 population exhibited the largest gain (131.2%) from cycle 0 to 8 averaged over all traits. Early yield exhibited the largest gain (60.8%) averaged over all populations.

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Root-knot caused by Meloidogyne spp. is the primary disease of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) in North Carolina, causing an annual yield loss of approximately 12 %. All cucumber cultivars we have tested are resistant to M. hapla, but none are resistant to any of the four important nematodes found on cucumber in North Carolina: M. incognita, M. arenaria races 1 and 2, and M. javanica. However, we are preparing to release three cucumber inbreds with resistance to four out of five of those nematodes. `Marion' (NC-44), `Shelby' (NC-45), and `Lucia' (NC-46) are high yielding, monoecious pickling cucumber inbreds that have resistance to M. arenaria races 1 and 2, M. javanica, and M. hapla. Length: diameter ratio was 3.4, 3.0, 3.9 for `Marion', `Shelby', `Lucia' (`Calypso' was 2.9 in the same trial), respectively. Thus, different length requirements for the pickling industry can be met with the three cultivars. Based on the 1995 North Carolina stage 1 pickle trial, performance (as % of `Calypso') for `Marion', `Shelby', and `Lucia' respectively was 79%, 94%, and 115% for total fruit number/ha; 71%, 96%, and 113% for marketable fruit number/ha; and 102%, 84%, and 97% for fruit quality rating. Therefore, nematode resistant cultivars are available that match the performance of the gynoecious hybrid check cultivar for the region.

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Watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai] is a major vegetable crop in the world, accounting for 6.8% of the world area devoted to vegetable crops. Watermelon is a useful vegetable crop for genetic research because of its small genome size, and the many available gene mutants. The watermelon genes were originally organized and summarized in 1944, and have been expanded and updated periodically. However, the action of some watermelon genes has not been described clearly in some cases. Also, the interaction of multiple gene loci that control similar traits needs to be described more clearly. Finally, it is necessary to identify the inbred lines having each published gene mutant, for use as type lines in studies of gene action, allelism, and linkage. The objective of this work was to update the gene list, identify the cultivar or line having each gene mutant, and collect seeds of the lines for use by interested researchers. In addition, the gene descriptions were expanded and clarified, information on gene interactions was added, and errors in naming or citing previously described genes were corrected. New genes that have not previously been described (cr, Ctr, dw-3, ms-2, Ti, ts and zym-FL) were added to the list, for a total of 163 watermelon gene mutants.

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Watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai] is a diverse crop, with much variability for fruit and seed traits. This study measured the inheritance of scarlet red flesh color, egusi seed type, yellow belly (ground spot) rind pattern, and intermittent stripes on the rind. Scarlet red is a dark red flesh color found in `Dixielee' and `Red-N-Sweet'. Egusi seed is an unusual mutant having a fleshy pericarp adherent to the seed coat found in PI 490383 and PI 560006. Yellow belly is found in `Black Diamond, Yellow Belly'. Intermittent stripes are found in `Navajo Sweet', which has narrow dark stripes that are irregular or nearly absent across the fruit. In order to study the inheritance of these traits, six generations, including parents, crosses, and backcrosses (Pa, Pb, F1, F2, BC1Pa, BC1Pb), were produced in each of seven crosses. Phenotypic data were recorded in the field, and analyzed with the Chi-square method for the segregation of Mendelian genes. Scarlet red color in `Dixielee' was allelic to scarlet red color in `Red-N-Sweet'. Four new genes were identified and named, in conformance with gene nomenclature rules for Cucurbitaceae: Scr for scarlet red, eg for egusi seed, Yb for yellow belly, and ins for intermittent stripes. Thus, we have added four new genes to the 52 morphological and disease resistance genes already published.

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Inheritance of resistance to zucchini yellow mosaic virus-Florida strain (ZYMV-FL) was studied in the resistant watermelon accession of PI 595203 (Citrulluslanatus var. lanatus), an egusi type originally collected in Nigeria. The F1, F2, and BC1 generations derived from the cross `Calhoun Gray' × PI 595203 and `New Hampshire Midget' × PI 595203 were used to study the inheritance of resistance to ZYMV-FL. Seedlings were inoculated with a severe isolate of ZYMV-FL at the first true leaf stage and rated on a 0 to 9 scale, based on the severity of virus symptoms. A single recessive gene was found to control resistance, for which we propose the symbol zym-FL2. The gene probably was not allelic to the previously published gene, zym-FL, for resistance to the Florida strain of ZYMV in the accession PI 482261, since PI 482261 was not resistant to the ZYMV-FL isolate used in our tests.

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Mixtures of different cucumber cultivars or breeding lines (collectively called cultigens) has been used commercially in some parts of the U.S. The objective of this study was to determine whether mixtures of cultigens produce higher yields than pure stands. Three cultigen pairs: Gy 14A+ M 21, Gy 4 + WI 2757 and Regal+ Carolina (higher yielding cultigen listed first) were blended at 0, 25, 50, 75 and 100%, and sown in a spring and summer planting in 1989. Fruit were harvested 6 times in each study and graded according to N. C. standards. Data were collected on yield, earliness, vine size, sex expression and disease resistance. Yields from the spring planting were superior to those from the summer, For maximum fruit weight (Mg/ha), a mixture consisting of 25% of the lower yielding cultigen of each pair should be grown. However, for maximum fruit value ($/ha), the higher yielding cultigen of each pair should be grown in pure stand. We concluded that arbitrary mixtures of cultivars offer no advantage in most cases, although superior mixtures might be produced by evaluating cultigen pairs for complementation.

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