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  • Author or Editor: Gabriele Gusmini x
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Yield data for the major cucurbit crops in the United States have been collected and summarized. Yield trends are presented for cucumber (Cucumis sativus; processing and fresh-market), melon (Cucumis melo; muskmelon and honeydew), and watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) for the period 1951–2005. Data have been obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as originally reported by six of its units: Agricultural Marketing Service, Agricultural Research Service, Bureau of Agricultural Economics, Economic Statistics Service, National Agricultural Statistics Service, and Statistical Reporting Service. For all crops yields have been increasing over time, except for processing cucumber, for which yields seem to have reached a plateau by the end of the 1990s.

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Salted or sweet pickles made from the rind of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) fruit are commonly produced in North America, Europe, and Asia. Among growers and food processors, there is an increasing interest in identifying cultivars suitable for industrial production of watermelon rind pickles. Cultivars for pickling should have a thick, white rind (mesocarp). The objective of our study was to evaluate adapted watermelon cultivars for use in pickling. We measured rind thickness of cultivars in eight North Carolina trials conducted in 1995 to 2002. The top three cultivars for rind thickness (22 to 24 mm) were Jubilee, Arriba and Charleston Gray (seeded), and Fantastik, Sweetheart and Triple Crown (seedless). Cultivars with the thinnest rind (7 to 8 mm) were Emperor, Scarlet Trio, Tri-X-464 and Carnival.

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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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Fruit weight in the cultivated watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai var. lanatus] ranges from 1 kg to over 100 kg. In recent years, preference of consumers has shifted toward fruit of smaller sizes than the large sizes traditionally used for parties and picnics. This has produced increased interest in the genetics of fruit weight, especially among watermelon breeders. The objectives of this study were to determine the inheritance of fruit weight. Six adapted cultivars having very large or very small fruit weight were crossed in a half diallel. Field trials were conducted at two locations in North Carolina (Clinton and Kinston). Large-fruited parents had higher phenotypic variance than small-fruited parents. Environmental variance was higher than genetic variance (mean, 7.58 and 3.82, respectively) at Kinston, NC. At Clinton, NC, genetic and environmental variances were similar (mean, 9.45 and 8.99, respectively) for 67% of the families. Narrow- and broad-sense heritability estimates were low to intermediate (mean, 0.59 and 0.41, respectively). A high number of effective factors (mean, 5.4) was found to influence fruit weight in watermelon. Watermelon breeders should use quantitative methods such as recurrent selection for population improvement to change fruit weight in the development of new cultivars.

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Salted and sweet watermelon rind pickles are commonly produced in North America, Europe, and Asia using traditional recipes. Homeowners and small industries use the leftover watermelon crop, especially from cultivars having thick and crisp rind, to produce pickles. Recently, we classified rind thickness for a set of obsolete and heirloom cultivars used by home gardeners and heirloom collectors in the United States. In this study, we used elite cultivars for growers interested in high yield, fruit quality, adaptability, and disease resistance. The objective of this study was to classify modern cultivars (nine inbreds and 103 F1 hybrids) of watermelons available to growers for use in production of watermelon rind pickles. Based on the data, cultivars were divided into three groups of rind thickness and categorized according to pedigree (inbred or F1 hybrid), fruit type (seeded or seedless), and flesh color (red, orange, or yellow). Most of the cultivars tested (109 of 112) had rind thicker than 10 mm and could be used for pickle production.

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Gummy stem blight (GSB), caused by three related species of Stagonosporopsis [Stagonosporopsis cucurbitacearum (syn. Didymella bryoniae), Stagonosporopsis citrulli, and Stagonosporopsis caricae], is a major disease of watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai] in most production areas of the United States. We studied the inheritance of resistance to GSB using three PI accessions of watermelon. Four families of six progenies (Pr, Ps, F1, F2, BC1Pr, and BC1Ps) were developed from four crosses of resistant PI accessions by susceptible cultivars. Each family was tested in 2002 and 2003 in North Carolina under field and greenhouse conditions for resistance to GSB. Artificial inoculation was used to induce uniform and strong epidemics. The effect of the Mendelian gene for resistance, db, was tested. Partial failure of the data to fit the single-gene inheritance suggested that resistance to GSB of PI 482283 and PI 526233 may be under the control of a more complex genetic system.

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