Submitted to: American Society of Horticulture Science Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 30, 2010
Publication Date: September 10, 2011
Citation: Makus, D.J. 2011. Impact of transplant method on watermelon yield and quality [abstract]. American Society of Horticultural Science Meeting. p. 125-126.
Watermelon plants grown in semi-arid, subtropical south Texas (Lat. 26° N) are subject to wind and high solar loads. In an effort to provide an environment that would reduce wind-related sand blasting, early transplant desiccation, and vine damage and reduce soil temperatures, watermelon seedlings were transplanted into chisel- and strip-tilled high surface residue (14 t/ha) Raymondville silt-loam soil and compared to the standard method of plowing and bedding. A diploid, ‘Jamboree’, and a triploid ‘Tri-X 313’ watermelon were used as sub-plots in a transplant establishment (main-plots) experiment with four replications. Maintaining high soil residue reduced average daily soil temperatures in the chisel and strip-tilled establishment plots at 5 (P=0.03), 10 (P=0.20), and 30 cm (P=0.01) depths compared to bedded melons. Daily maximum surface temperatures (unreplicated), measured by IR thermometry, were lowest in the bedded plots, suggesting that soil cooling by water loss might be the reason for the lower temperatures. However, seasonal moisture at 30 cm was influenced only by date and not by transplant method. Rainfall for the experimental period was unseasonably high (52% of ET). Plant establishment method did not influence average fruit weight, marketable fruit weight, or marketable fruit number, but planting into high residue soil increased both marketable yield (%) and marketable fruit (%) with ‘Jamboree’ showing the greatest response to a high residue environment. Fruit quality attributes were not effected by plant establishment method, but ‘Tri-X 313’ soluble solids (%) was higher than that of ‘Jamboree’ (12.0 vs. 11.5 %). Cultivars did differ in fruit weight, marketable fruit, and marketable yield (%), and marketable fruit number (%).