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  • Author or Editor: Chris Gunter x
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A 2-year field study was conducted to determine the influence of planting method, i.e., transplanting or direct seeding, black plastic mulch, and soil fumigation on the vine growth, yield, and root structure of diploid hybrid watermelon. The experiment was a split-plot design with fumigation as the main plot and there were four replications. Methyl bromide (337 L·ha−1) was applied to the soil, which was then tarped. Black plastic mulch, 0.61 m wide × 2 mil (Visqueen 4020™) was applied to appropriate rows. Vine growth was measured during the season and yield was determined by the number and weight of fruit from each treatment. After fruit harvest, plant roots were excavated so that root structure was maintained with minimal damage and roots were photographed. Root systems were scored for tap root dominance and overall root distribution. Direct-seeded watermelon had more vine growth and higher yields in both years than transplanted watermelon. The advantage of direct seeding was likely the result of the growth and root expansion that occurred for these plants while the transplants were still in the greenhouse. Direct-seeded plants also displayed greater tap root dominance in each year than transplanted watermelon. Roots of both direct-seeded plants and transplants had a greater range in size distribution in both years under plastic mulch than those grown on bare ground. In late-planted watermelon, direct-seeded plants had more favorable vine growth and yield without the aberrant roots systems produced by transplants.

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