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  • Author or Editor: Matthew Horry x
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Southern root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne incognita) are an important re-emerging pest of watermelon in the United States and worldwide. The re-emergence of root-knot nematodes (RKNs) in watermelon and other cucurbits is largely the result of the intensive cultivation of vegetable crops on limited agricultural lands coupled with the loss of methyl bromide for pre-plant soil fumigation, which has been the primary method for control of RKNs and many soilborne diseases of cucurbits and other vegetable crops for several decades. One alternative for managing RKN in watermelon is the use of resistant rootstocks for grafted watermelon. We have developed several RKN-resistant Citrullus lanatus var. citroides lines (designated RKVL for Root-Knot Vegetable Laboratory), which have shown promise as rootstocks for grafted watermelon. In 2011 and 2012, we demonstrated that F1 hybrids derived from our selected RKVL lines exhibited resistance to RKN that was equal to or greater than that of the parental RKVL lines when grown in fields highly infested with M. incognita. In 2011, although significant differences were not observed among rootstocks, the F1 hybrids produced slightly higher yields compared with the selected parental lines. Among the selected parental lines, RKVL 318 produced high yields in both years. In 2011, three of four RKVL parental lines and all four of their F1 hybrids produced greater (P < 0.05) fruit yields than self-grafted ‘Tri-X 313’, ‘Emphasis’ bottle gourd, and ‘Strong Tosa’ squash hybrid. In 2012, three RKVL F1 hybrid lines produced higher yields than the selected parents. Overall, these F1 hybrids were vigorous and should provide useful genetic material for selection and development of robust RKN-resistant C. lanatus var. citroides rootstock lines.

Free access

The yield and insect resistance of 12 sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) clones grown in two different production systems (organic black plastic mulch and conventional bare ground) were evaluated in 2016 and 2017 in coastal South Carolina. Significant differences in total storage root yield, marketable storage root yield, U.S. No. 1 storage root yield, and percent of U.S. No. 1 storage roots in all trials were found, except for percent of U.S. No. 1 storage roots in 2017 for the organic black plastic mulch trial. In the organic black plastic mulch trials, ‘Bonita’ and USDA-04-136 consistently produced high marketable yields, whereas ‘Ruddy’ and USDA-W388 consistently produced the lowest marketable yields. ‘Averre’, ‘Beauregard’, ‘Covington’, and USDA-09-130 exhibited variable performance, with marketable yields among the highest in a single year. For the conventional trials, USDA-04-136 consistently produced high marketable yields, whereas ‘Ruddy’ and USDA-W-388 consistently produced the lowest marketable yields. ‘Averre’, ‘Bonita’, ‘Covington’, and USDA-09-130 exhibited variable performance, with marketable yields among the highest in a single year. For the organic black plastic mulch, significant differences were detected in the percent of uninjured roots and percent white grub (primarily Plectris aliena) damage in 2016 and in wireworm (Elateridae)-cucumber beetle (Diabrotica)-flea beetle (Systena) severity index (WDS severity index) in 2016 and 2017. USDA-04-136 and USDA-W-388 consistently had the lowest WDS severity index, whereas ‘Covington’ consistently had the highest WDS severity index. For the conventional trials, significant differences were found among clones in both years for all insect rating variables, except for percent sweetpotato weevil (Cylas formicarius elegantulus) damage. ‘Ruddy’, USDA-04-136, and USDA-W-388 consistently yielded the highest percent of uninjured roots, whereas ‘Averre’, ‘Bonita’, SC-1149-19, and USDA-09-130 consistently had the lowest percent of uninjured roots. The research reported here for yield and insect resistance under conventional and organic production systems will be useful for producers in the selection of cultivars suitable for growth in South Carolina.

Open Access

Root traits are an important component for productive plant performance. Roots offer immediate absorptive surfaces for water and nutrient acquisition and are thus critical to crop growth and response to biotic and abiotic stresses. In addition, roots can provide the first line of defense against soilborne pathogens. Watermelon crop performance is often challenged by inclement weather and environmental factors. A resilient root system can support the watermelon crop’s performance across a diverse range of production conditions. In this study, 335 four-day-old watermelon (Citrullus spp.) seedlings were evaluated for total root length, average root diameter, total root surface area, and total root volume. Total root length varied from 8.78 to 181 cm (20.6-fold variation), total surface area varied from 2 to 35.5 cm2, and average root diameter and total root volume had an 8- and 29.5-fold variation, respectively. Genotypes PI 195927 (Citrullus colocynthis) and PI 674448 (Citrullus amarus) had the largest total root length values. Accessions PI 674448 and PI 494817 (C. amarus) had the largest total root surface area means. Watermelon cultivars (Citrullus lanatus) had a relatively smaller root system and significantly fewer fibrous roots when compared with the roots of the other Citrullus spp. Positive genetic correlations were identified among total root length, total root surface area, and total root volume. This genetic information will be useful in future breeding efforts to select for multiple root architecture traits in watermelon. Germplasm identified in this study that exhibit superior root traits can be used as parental choices to improve watermelon for root traits.

Open Access