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Seminar: Nettie Baugher: Staminate Flower Production and Vine Growth in 18 Diploid Watermelon Cultivars Commercially Used as Pollinizers
November 2, 2021 | 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Staminate Flower Production and Vine Growth in 18 Diploid Watermelon Cultivars Commercially Used as Pollinizers
Nettie Baugher, MHS Presentation
Under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Schultheis
Tuesday, November 2, 2021, at 10:00 am
Join Zoom Meeting: https://ncsu.zoom.us/j/99697621171?pwd=aEsrWkhFMmIyZDFTODJyaUpHUDluQT09
Meeting ID: 996 9762 1171
Seedless watermelons are grown from triploid plants. These triploid plants produce pollen that is sterile, so fruit production is dependent upon pollen that is provided by diploid pollinizer plants placed throughout the field. Much of the information we have on watermelon pollinizers is over ten years old, and new pollinizer cultivars have been released in that time period. A study was conducted in Kinston, North Carolina to evaluate watermelon pollinizer cultivars that are being considered or are currently available for commercial production. 15 cultivars were included in the 2019 study, and three more were added in 2021. Flower production and vine length were evaluated in each cultivar to assess pollen availability throughout the growing season.
‘SP-7’ produced the most male flowers the most consistently throughout both the 2019 and 2021 seasons and consistently had long vine production, which makes it well suited for use as a commercial pollinizer. ‘Ace Plus’ was also a consistent producer of male flowers, as it produced a high number of male flowers early in the season in both 2019 and 2021, making this pollinizer an excellent choice for early flower production. Other pollinizers that produced comparable early or high numbers of staminate flowers that were slightly less than ‘SP-7’ and ‘Ace Plus’ were ‘Co-Pilot,’ Wild Card Plus,’ and ‘Wingman.’ All these cultivars are dedicated pollinizers, meaning the fruits that are produced are not suited for consumption or sale. Growers can choose to plant harvestable diploid pollinizer plants, which produce seeded melons that can be marketed. Seven harvestable pollinizer cultivars were included in this study, of which ‘Mickylee’ and ‘Premium’ produced the earliest flowers and consistently produced long vines. ‘Sweet Punch’ consistently produced high numbers of male flowers in 2021, but this cultivar was not included in the 2019 study.