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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Impact of cultivar and production practices on yield and phytonutrient content of organically grown watermelon

Authors
item Davis, Angela
item Webber, Charles
item Perkins Veazie, Penelope
item Collins, Julie

Submitted to: Journal of Vegetable Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 19, 2006
Publication Date: August 1, 2007
Citation: Davis, A.R., Webber III, C.L., Perkins Veazie, P.M., Collins, J.K. 2006. Impact of cultivar and production practices on yield and phytonutrient content of organically grown watermelon. Journal of Vegetable Science. 12(4):83-91.

Interpretive Summary: Cultural practices have been reported to affect quality and phytonutrient content of watermelon. Knowing which varieties perform well under various production systems, and how these systems affect quality, yield, and phytonutrient content is important to ensure high quality and yield. There is limited information on how watermelon varieties perform when grown with organic practices. Production characteristics of six watermelon varieties from certified organic seed sources were compared under high and low input organic culture. Results were compared to a conventional low input field. The high input production method almost doubled the number of fruit produced for all varieties, produced greater yields, and heavier average fruit weight, but produced fruit with a decreased quality fruit (lower sugar and lycopene content) compared to the low input production method. 'Triple Star' was the most productive seedless variety. 'Early Moonbeam' produced the largest number of fruit, and the smallest fruit, of the seeded varieties. 'Allsweet,' a seeded variety, had the best marketable yield due to its larger size. 'Triple Star' had the best quality when data were combined across locations. Among the seeded varieties, 'Allsweet' had the best quality at both organic locations; however, average lycopene content on a per fruit basis under low input production, was not significantly different when compared to 'Sugar Baby.'

Technical Abstract: Cultural practices have been reported to affect quality and phytonutrient content of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus). Knowing which varieties perform well under various production systems, and how these systems affect quality, yield, and phytonutrient content is imperative to ensure high quality and yield. There is limited information on how watermelon varieties perform when grown with organic practices. Production characteristics of six watermelon varieties from certified organic seed sources were compared under high (black plastic and mechanical cultivation for weed control) and low input (no-till) organic culture. Results were compared to a conventional low input (no-till) field. The high input production method almost doubled the number of fruit produced for all varieties, producing greater yields, and heavier average fruit weights, but produced fruit with decreased quality, lower Brix and lycopene content, when compared to the low input production method. Initial analysis of the data suggested that lycopene content was negatively correlated with fruit size within a variety. When each variety was alalyzed within individual plots, there was a slight positive correlation between lycopene content and fruit weight. 'Triple Star' was the most productive seedless variety in terms of number of fruit and marketable yield when data were combined across locations. 'Early Moonbeam' produced the largest number of fruit, and the smallest fruit, of the seeded varieties. 'Allsweet,' a seeded variety, had the best marketable yield due to its larger size. 'Triple Star' had the best quality (lycopene and Brix content) when data were combined across locations. Among the seeded varieties, 'Allsweet' had the best quality at both organic locations; however, average lycopene content on a per fruit basis under low input production was not significantly different when compared to 'Sugar Baby.'

Last Modified: 10/23/2014
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