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María Victoria Huitrón-Ramírez, Marcia Ricárdez-Salinas and Francisco Camacho-Ferre

One of the major problems of watermelon production is the decrease of fruit yield and quality caused by soil diseases. Soil disinfection with methyl bromide (MB) has been used to prevent fungus attacks; however, its use is being restricted because this substance damages the ozone layer. Searching for new MB alternatives, field experiments were carried out in open field in soils infested with Olpidium bornovanus and melon necrotic spot virus in Colima, Mexico, where watermelons had only been grown previously using soil fumigation with MB. Yield and quality of watermelon cultivar triploid Tri-X 313 grafted on two rootstocks of Cucurbita maxima × Cucurbita moschata (‘RS841’ and ‘Shintosa Camelforce’) were evaluated during 2 consecutive years. Each experiment had five treatments, two of them with nongrafted plants at a density of 3472 plants/ha with and without MB fumigation. The remaining three treatments had grafted plants in nonfumigated soil with plant densities of 2778, 2083, and 1740 plants/ha. The use of watermelon grafted on ‘RS841’ and ‘Shintosa Camelforce’ rootstocks significantly increased the average fruit weight and the total yield of watermelon in soil without the need for MB. Grafting may be considered as an alternative MB fumigation. With the use of grafted watermelon plants, planting density may be reduced by 50%, obtaining higher yields than those obtained from nongrafted plants grown on fumigated soil except for ‘Tri-X 313’ grafted on ‘Shintosa Camelforce’ in 2006–2007. Fruits harvested from grafted plants had higher firmness than those harvested from nongrafted plants without affecting the content of soluble solids.

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Maria Victoria Huitrón, Manuel Diaz, Fernando Diánez, Francisco Camacho and Antonio Valverde

Pollination is one problem with intensive seedless watermelon (Citrullus lanatus Thunb.) production under unfavorable environmental conditions (low solar radiation and temperature) due to the lowered activity of pollinating insects, such as the bee (Apis mellifera L.). An alternative to overcome these problems is the use of plant growth regulators. For this reason, experiments were conducted for 2 years in plastic greenhouses in the fields of Almeria, southwestern Spain, to evaluate the production and quality of ‘Reina de corazones’ triploid watermelon grafted onto RS841 rootstock (Cucurbita maxima × Cucurbita moschata). Two phytoregulators were used for the development of the ovary: 1-(2-chloro-4-pyridyl)-3-phenylurea (CPPU) and 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D). Concentrations of CPPU evaluated were 50, 100, 150, and 200 mg·L−1. An application of 0.6 mL was applied to each ovary in addition to 4, 6, 8, or 12 mg·L−1 of 2,4-D to the foliar mass at a proportion of 1000 L·ha−1. Results showed that the production and number of fruit obtained with CPPU treatments were similar to what is obtained by using bees for fruit pollination. Maximum production was reached at concentrations of 100–200 mg·L−1. Average production was 32% to 83% higher than results from 2,4-D at 8 mg·L−1. The number of fruit per plant was 33% to 35% higher as well. In the first assay, a positive correlation was also observed between production and CPPU concentration. CPPU treatments had a lower accumulation of sugars than those with 2,4-D; nevertheless, both treatments showed values of commercially acceptable soluble solids.

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Francisco Javier Núñez, Maria Victoria Huitrón, Manuel Díaz, Fernando Diánez and Francisco Camacho-Ferre

In Spain, the adoption of the triploide ‘Queen of Hearts’ (Citrullus lanatus Thunb.) watermelon cultivar has brought important changes in the production of seedless watermelon thanks to its magnificent acceptance by the market. The experiments on triploid watermelon presented here examined innovative production techniques that would guarantee the productivity and quality of this cultivar in plastic greenhouses and improve cost-effectiveness, serving growers. Crop intensification was tested under a “temporary trellis” management system, increasing plant density from 2500 plants/ha in the traditional or creeping crop system to 10,000 plants/ha. The “temporary trellis” system was combined with fruit set through the localized application of a 150- to 200-mg·L−1 solution of 1-(2-chloro-4-pyridyl)-3-phenylurea (CPPU). The increase of grafted watermelon plant density to 1 plant/m2 gave rise to an increase in early harvest measured as the number of fruits per surface area compared with the traditional system with a density of 0.25 plant/m2. In addition, a process of temporary trellising facilitates choosing female flowers for applying CPPU. The °Brix and pulp firmness quality parameters did not show significant differences between “temporary trellised” and creeping crops.