HortScience (2015) 50, 1332-1337

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Jesse Wimer, Debra Inglis and Carol Miles (2015)
Evaluating grafted watermelon for Verticillium wilt severity, yield, and fruit quality in Washington State
HortScience 50 (9), 1332-1337
Abstract: Verticillium wilt caused by Verticillium dahliae is a serious disease for watermelon growers in Washington State. Grafting represents a possible alternative disease management strategy, but little is known about rootstock resistance to verticillium wilt or the performance of grafted watermelon in the different production regions of the state. In this study, verticillium wilt severity, yield, and fruit quality were evaluated at three contrasting field sites in Washington using verticillium wilt-susceptible 'Sugar Baby' (diploid) watermelon grafted onto four commercial rootstock cultivars (Marvel, Rampart, Tetsukabuto, and Titan); nongrafted 'Sugar Baby' was included as the control. Verticillium dahliae soil densities varied at each site (<1.0, 5.7, and 18.0 colony-forming units (cfu)/g soil at Othello, Eltopia, and Mount Vernon, respectively). Area under disease progress curve (AUDPC) values differed significantly among treatments at Eltopia and Mount Vernon. Nongrafted 'Sugar Baby' had the highest AUDPC value at all three sites, while 'Sugar Baby' grafted onto 'Tetsukabuto' had the lowest AUDPC value at Eltopia and Mount Vernon. Nongrafted 'Sugar Baby' also had the lowest fruit weight per plant at all sites, but 'Sugar Baby' grafted onto 'Tetsukabuto' had the highest fruit weight per plant at Eltopia and Mount Vernon. Marketable fruit weight per plant did not differ among treatments at Othello. Yield was negatively correlated with AUDPC values at both Eltopia and Mount Vernon. Fruit number per plant was only significantly impacted at Eltopia, where 'Sugar Baby' grafted onto 'Tetsukabuto' had more fruit per plant than all other treatments except 'Sugar Baby' grafted onto 'Rampart'. Fruit quality (flesh firmness, total soluble solids, and lycopene content) was unaffected by grafting at either Othello or Eltopia, except for increased flesh firmness for 'Sugar Baby' grafted onto 'Marvel' and 'Titan' as compared with nongrafted 'Sugar Baby' at Eltopia. At season's end, plants were sampled from all treatments at Eltopia and Mount Vernon and assayed for V. dahliae. Microsclerotia typical of this organism were observed in all samples. Results from this study indicate that verticillium wilt of watermelon can be successfully managed by grafting when the V. dahliae soil density exceeds 5.0 cfu/g in Washington. In addition, grafting does not reduce fruit quality and using certain rootstocks can improve the quality of flesh firmness at certain locations.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
resistance/tolerance/defence of host

Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.

Verticillium dahliae Watermelon/colocynth (Citrullus) U.S.A. (NW)