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  • Author or Editor: Hamid J. Farahani x
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Gilbert Miller, Ahmad Khalilian, Jeffrey W. Adelberg, Hamid J. Farahani, Richard L. Hassell and Christina E. Wells

Delineating the depth and extent of the watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb.) Matsum. & Nak.] root zone assists with proper irrigation management and minimizes nutrient leaching. The objective of this 3-year field study was to measure root distribution and root length density of watermelon (cv. Wrigley) grafted on two different rootstocks (Lagenaria siceraria cv. ‘FR Strong’ and Cucurbita moschata × Cucurbita maxima cv. Chilsung Shintoza) and grown under three soil moisture treatments. Irrigation treatments tested were: no irrigation (NI), briefly irrigated for fertigation and early-season plant establishment; minimally irrigated (MI), irrigated when soil moisture in top 0.30 m of soil fell below 50% available water capacity (AWC); well irrigated (WI), irrigated when soil moisture in top 0.30 m of soil fell below 15% (AWC). Root length density (RLD) was measured from 75-cm-deep soil cores at two locations three times per growing season and a third location at the end of the season. Cores 1 and 2 sample locations were 15 cm to the side of each plant: Core 1 on the same side as the drip tape and Core 2 on the opposite side. At the end of the season, Core 3 was taken 15 cm outside of the bed in bare ground. RLD was significantly greater in the 0- to 30-cm soil depth and dropped dramatically below 30 cm; it was not significantly affected by irrigation treatment or rootstock. Core 1, next to the drip tape, had greater RLD than Core 2, 30 cm from drip tape, but only at the later sampling dates. Roots were found in Core 3 at all depths, but the RLD was significantly less than that measured in Cores 1 and 2. These findings suggest that the effective root zone depth for watermelon is 0 to 30 cm and that the particular scion/rootstock combinations tested in this study do not differ in root system size or location.