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Paola Crinò, Chiara Lo Bianco, Youssef Rouphael, Giuseppe Colla, Francesco Saccardo and Antonino Paratore

Grafting represents an effective tool for controlling the race 1,2 of Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. melonis (FOM) and Didymella bryoniae in melon (Cucumis melo L.). Although not considered a soilborne pathogen, D. bryoniae survives on plant remains in the soil. The lack of effective resistant commercial hybrids and the gradual reduced use of soil fumigation with methyl bromide increase the risk of damages by both these pathogens. We determined the effectiveness of eight commercial rootstocks, ‘RS 841’, ‘P 360’, ‘ES 99-13’, ‘Elsi’ (Cucurbita maxima Duchesne × Cucurbita moschata Duchesne), and ‘Belimo’, ‘Energia’, ‘Griffin’, ‘ES liscio’ (Cucumis melo genotypes), for their resistance to FOM and D. bryoniae. During 2003 and 2004 growing seasons, the inodorus F1 hybrid Incas was grafted onto each of these commercial rootstocks and then evaluated, under greenhouse conditions, in terms of productivity and fruit quality. Cucurbita rootstocks (‘RS 841’, ‘P 360’, ‘ES 99-13’, ‘Elsi’) were highly resistant both to the race 1,2 of FOM (100% survival) and to D. bryoniae (almost absent crown lesions and low leaf disease index); this reaction clearly differed from that of both the C. melo rootstocks (‘Belimo’, ‘Energia’, ‘Griffin’, ‘ES liscio’) and the control Incas. In both years, the highest yield was recorded in the graft combination Incas/‘RS 841’ with 5.6 and 8.1 kg·m−2 during 2003 and 2004, respectively. The Cucurbita rootstock ‘RS 841’ produced yields higher than C. melo rootstocks (‘Belimo’, ‘Energia’, ‘Griffin’, ‘ES liscio’) and the control Incas. Fruit dry matter, titratable acidity, total soluble solid contents, fruit firmness, and Hunter color [L* (brightness), a* (redness), and b* (yellowness) parameters] of grafted melons were similar to those of the plants grown on their own roots.