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Karen L.B. Gast and Charles W. Marr

Several new seedlees watermelon cultivars have recently been released or tested by seed companies. Their greatest asset is their seed-lessness. Melon quality, as determined by consumer acceptance may be a greater challenge.

A consumer preference survey was conducted to determine the acceptability of ten seedless cultivars and breeding lines. All cultivars were rated as acceptable and significant differences were found among the cultivars. Comments expressed by consumers indicated that the seedless melons were not as flavorful as seeded cultivars. No correlations were found between soluble solids and preference nor firmness and preference. Further investigation will be made as to whether the convenience and flavor are worth the greater cost of the seedless watermelon.

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Gilbert Miller and Jeremy Greene

Intercropping of seedless watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb.) Matsum. & Nak.] and cotton [Gossypium hirsutum (L.)] in the eastern geographical area of South Carolina requires changes in normal crop-management programs but has the potential to improve grower profits compared with typical production of each crop separately. The alteration and timing of several normal crop-production practices for both crops can present challenges and must be well-defined for successful intercropping of watermelon and cotton in the region. Notable adjustments in production for watermelon are delayed planting date, reduced row spacing and bed width, and modification of herbicide applications. Significant changes in normal cotton production also include modification of herbicide applications, but additional considerations, such as temporal limits on side-dressed fertilizer and insecticide applications, are needed because of the raised beds and plasticulture used for watermelons and also because of labeling restrictions for pesticides across crops. Research was conducted to 1) identify modifications in standard crop-management procedures for watermelon and cotton intercropping; and 2) determine the feasibility and profitability of intercropping the crops. Although there was a slight numerical reduction in intercropped watermelon yield each year, there were no significant differences in total watermelon yield between intercropping and watermelon monoculture in any of the years. There were also no significant differences in watermelon fruit quality parameters (size, brix, hard seed, hollow heart) in any of the years. Intercropped cotton yield was significantly less than monoculture cotton yields in each of the three years. The net income from intercropping in each year was slightly less than the net income from watermelon monoculture.

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M. Rangappa and H.L. Bhardwaj

Cover crops offer an excellent source of nutritional requirements for production of vegetables in sustainable agricultural system. By using this concept, field experiments were conducted in l998 at three locations in Virginia; Petersburg, James City, and King and William County, and five cover crop treatments; Hairy Vetch (HV), Crimson Clover (CC), HV+Rye, CC+Rye, and a conventional bare-ground control were used for their potential support of nutritional requirements for production of a seedless watermelon crop. The results indicated that the yield levels of seedless watermelon following cover crop treatments had significantly higher number of fruits per acre and the crimson clover treatment had higher fruit size in one of the sites (King William County) as compared to the other four treatments and two sites suggesting that cover crop/crops alone have the potential to support nutritional requirements for seedless watermelon to sustain production, thus becoming a viable and profitable alternative to using inorganic nitrogen source. The effects of cover crops on chemical composition of seedless watermelon were generally not significant. The results also indicated that watermelons produced using sustainable crop production methods are comparable to those produced using conventional methods. Our studies support using seedless watermelon as a viable alternative and high-value cash crop for Virginia farmers' especially tobacco growers, other small-scale producers, and limited resource farmers.

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M. Rangappa, A.A. Hamama and H.L. Bhardwaj

Although there is increasing interest in reducing the use of nitrogen (N) fertilizers due to the potential of unused N causing pollution of surface and groundwater, N is a major nutrient for plant growth. Our objective was to determine the potential of using winter legume cover crops to meet the N needs of seedless watermelon (Citrullus lanatus), a potential cash crop for farmers in Virginia. Fruit number, fruit weight, fruit yield, and fruit quality traits (flesh to rind ratio, water content, total soluble solids, sugar content, and pH) of seedless watermelons were evaluated in replicated experiments in Virginia at three locations during 1997-98 and two locations during 1998-99 following cover crop treatments consisting of crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa), crimson clover + rye (Secale cereale), hairy vetch + rye, and a bareground control treatment that received 100 lb/acre (112 kg·ha-1) of N. At all five locations, the bareground control treatment resulted in fewer fruit [1803 fruit/acre (4454 fruit/ha)], lower fruit weight [9.8 lb (4.5 kg)], and lower fruit yield [8.9 tons/acre (20.0 t·ha-1)] compared to the four cover crop treatments. The crimson clover + rye and hairy vetch treatments resulted in highest numberof fruit [2866 and 2657 fruit/acre (7079 and 6563 fruit/ha), respectively], whereas the highest fruit yield was obtained following hairy vetch [21.2 tons/acre (49.8 t·ha-1)], hairy vetch + rye [20.3 tons/acre (45.5 t·ha-1)], and crimson clover + rye [19.6 tons/acre (43.9 t·ha-1)]. Cover crop treatments did not affect the quality of watermelon flesh. The seedless watermelon fruit averaged 1.4 flesh: 1 rind ratio, 90% water content, 9.5% total soluble solids, 8.0% sugar, and a pH value of 5.9. These results indicated that legume cover crops, such as crimson clover and hairy vetch, can be successfully used to produce seedless watermelons, in a no-till system, without any use of N fertilizers with dryland conditions.

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Xin Zhao, Qianru Liu, M. Tatiana Sanchez and Nicholas S. Dufault

cultivars are commonly grown by Florida growers, in response to the increasing market demand for seedless watermelon in the United States ( Elwakil et al., 2017 ; Ferreira and Perez, 2016 ). The tetraploids used in developing triploid watermelons usually

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Dena C. Fiacchino and S. Alan Walters

Due to the lack of viable pollen produced in seedless (triploid) watermelons, fruit set in seedless watermelons requires a standard seed (diploid) producing cultivar (hereafter referred to as a pollinizer) to be interplanted as a source of pollen. It is recommended that one row of pollinizer be planted for every two rows of seedless watermelon. There is little to no information available to growers comparing the effects of pollinizers on seedless watermelon yield and quality. We conducted a study to evaluate the effectiveness of three seeded pollinizers (`Crimson Sweet', `Fiesta', and `Royal Sweet') on yield and quality of four seedless watermelon hybrids (`Abbott and Cobb 5244', `Crimson Trio', `Millionaire', and `Tri-X 313'). `Royal Sweet' as a pollinizer tended to produce higher yields of small (<3.6 kg) and medium-sized seedless watermelons (3.6-7.3 kg) per acre compared to `Crimson Sweet' and `Fiesta'. `Crimson Sweet' produced a greater number of large (>7.3 kg) seedless watermelons compared to `Fiesta' and `Royal Sweet'. However, the number of marketable melons (>3.6 kg) did not differ among the three pollinizers evaluated. Two quality measurements taken (hollow heart and soluble sugars) were not influenced by the choice of pollinizer.

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Charles Marr, Wm. J. Lamont Jr and Max Allison

Using an intensive vegetable production system of grain-strip windbreaks, plastic-mulch-covered planting be& installed with drip irrigation tubing, and fertigation through the drip system, >67,000 lb/acre (75,000 kg·ha-1) of seedless watermelons were produced. A floating row cover increased the yield by 14,000 lb/acre (16,380 kg·ha-1) by increasing earliness. The row cover also improved initial transplant survival. Earliness and the additional income generated from improved production should provide economic justification to growers considering floating row covers.

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Timothy E. Elkner* and David H. Johnson

Medium-sized triploid watermelons were evaluated in southeast Pennsylvania in 2002 and 2003 to determine the best adapted cultivars for this region. The 2002 season was unusually hot and dry, while 2003 was unusually cool and wet. Yields and fruit quality were compared for the eight cultivars that were grown both seasons to determine the effect of weather on seedless watermelon. Cooler temperatures reduced total fruit number and total yield but not average fruit weight or soluble solids. Researchers evaluating triploid watermelons over several seasons can compare size and °Brix among cultivars, but will need to be cautious when predicting total yields.

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Tracy Wootten and Ed Kee

In response to a national increase in the consumption of triploid (seedless) watermelons, seedless watermelon production in Delaware has increased to 43% of the total watermelon acreage. Cultural practices for triploid watermelon production are similar to seeded (diploid) types. However, poor seed germination, high seed costs, erratic performance, and inadequate varieties limited their adoption until the early 1990s in Delaware. Univ. of Delaware Cooperative Extension has worked with Delaware growers to develop a “recipe” for successful triploid production. Extension programs, such as on-farm demonstrations, research trials, educational seminars, and one-on-one consultations, have enabled producers to provide high-quality fruit and yields. Intensive management and marketing are the keys tosuccess as Delaware producers have become leaders of triploid production in the Northeast region. As demand for triploid watermelon continues to increase, extension will remain a vital part of the $4.5 million industry. Growers continually deal with marketing issues in a supply and demand-driven market. As more seedless are on the market and profits lessen, growers will have to be diligent in their marketing and management practices.

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Charles W. Marr and Karen L.B. Gast

Consumers in six farmers' market locations in Kansas indicated that they would pay an additional 5¢ per pound for seedless watermelons. When asked to rate seeded and seedless melons on a 1 to 10 scale after tasting samples, consumers rated the seedless melon 7.35 and the seeded melon 7.01. There were no practical differences among the six locations studied. With the difficulties in growing seedless melons and greater costs of production, growers and marketers need to assess carefully the market potential for seedless watermelons and plan a merchandising strategy to differentiate seedless from seeded melons. Our studies indicated a slight eating quality preference for seedless melons.