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Video: Watermelon Hybrids For Our Climate
Read the previous part. ← What a watermelon loves, the formation and grafting of watermelons
Watermelon takes a long time to grow, it has a high yield, and therefore requires a lot of nutrients. For the production of 100 kg of mass, watermelon absorbs 0.19 kg of nitrogen, phosphorus oxide (P 2 O 5) - 0.92 kg, potassium oxide (K 2 O) - 0.136 kg.
Moreover, there are significant differences in the absorption of nutrients by watermelon plants at different stages of the growing season: only 0.01% of them are spent on seed germination, 14.6% before flowering, with intensive fruit growth, this is the most productive period - total nutrient intake - 84,8%.
So, we see that the plant gradually increases the consumption of fertilizers necessary for development, reaching a maximum during the formation of the fruit.
The first true leaves appear 3-5 days after germination, during the period of mass leaf formation, they appear every 2-3 days in an amount of 4-5 pieces. With the formation of leaves, the first axillary buds appear, which bloom about 12-15 days from the beginning of the formation of true leaves, after which the branches begin to grow.
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The formation of the root system of a watermelon begins with the release of the cotyledons to the soil surface. The roots reach their maximum total length during the flowering phase. The peculiarity of the root system of watermelon is its high suction power, which is capable of using moisture at a soil moisture content of 6%. The suction force reaches 1 MPa (10 atmospheres).
This explains the drought resistance of the plant, however, to obtain high yields, watermelon requires irrigation. It is usually not watered only one week before harvest to improve the sweetness of the fruit. To obtain 25 kg of fruit, a watermelon needs 160 liters of available water per 1 m² with an optimal mineral nutrition. The optimal indicators of the moisture content of the arable soil layer for watermelon is 75-80% HB, air - 50-60%. The soil for the watermelon should be loose, well-drained, sandy soils are preferable, preferably slightly acidic with a pH of 5-7.
It should be noted that the low content of mobile phosphorus in the soil in the first period of plant development causes inhibition of the growth of the main and lateral roots. On acidic soils (pH 4.0-5.5), iron, aluminum and manganese are in forms available to plants, but their concentration reaches toxic levels. This makes it difficult for the plant to enter phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, calcium, magnesium, and molybdenum. On acidic soils, there may be an increased loss of plants without external causes, the development of diseases and pests.
On alkaline soils (pH 7.5-8.5), iron, manganese, phosphorus, copper, zinc, boron, and most trace elements become less available to plants. This can cause a number of diseases and impair the quality of the fruit. So, keep an eye on the acidity of your soil, and not only on watermelons.
Watermelons for our conditions
As for the number of fruits that one plant can feed, it depends on the variety and the whole complex of conditions - light, nutrition, soil, etc.
The main requirement in the selection of a hybrid for our conditions is its early maturity and, as I noted above, the ability to set fruit in the humid climate of our greenhouses. I have already spoken about the Sorento F1 hybrid, it has proven itself well with us. Watermelon Suga Delikata F1 is the earliest hybrid of the mixed cultivar type (Crimson Sweet x Suga Baby). Very good for film cover. Has amazing, highest taste. This is a watermelon, which is grown "for themselves." He has good vaccination ability. You can leave 3-4 fruits on the plant, pinch the rest of the ovaries.
Hybrid Victoria F1 - ultra-early watermelon with concentrated fruit ripening. Forms round, striped, very uniform fruits with an average weight of 5-8 kg. It is the earliest hybrid of all existing on the market. The plant is compact, in the early stages of development it requires increased nutrition and optimal watering, however, in terms of the development of vegetative mass and productivity, it gives a hundredfold for all the efforts invested. The ovary is deterministic. The pulp is tender, red, juicy, with high taste.
Watermelon Krimstar F1 - Japanese selection (Sakata). Very early, dark and light green striped, oval-round fruit weighing 6-8 kg. Designed for protected and open ground, good grafting ability. It is unpretentious to grow, has excellent taste, high sugar content.
A good result is given by fertilizing with mineral fertilizers and watering with warm water when growing all hybrids. You can continue to list the early ripening hybrids available in our trade, but it is better for gardeners to test them themselves, because you need to adapt to each hybrid.
Abroad, more attention is now paid to triploid (seedless) hybrids. They hold almost 80% of the market in the US and Europe. The technology for the production of triploid watermelons has its own characteristics and differs from the technology we are used to for the cultivation of ordinary diploid watermelons, but this is a separate issue.
Maybe hybrids of triploid mini-watermelons (2-3 kg) are of interest to our advanced gardeners. I note that they, as a rule, have high quality fruits with their small size, this is due to genetics. True, the prices for seeds of such hybrids are five or more times higher than for ordinary diploid hybrids, since the production of seeds of this type is an extremely laborious process, which makes them very expensive.
Of the seedless hybrids, I can name Boston F1 - a seedless hybrid of an early ripening watermelon with a powerful plant. Fruits are round, weighing 5-8 kg, depending on the cultivation method, very uniform in weight and shape. The color of the fruit is attractive with characteristic dark stripes on a light green background. Resistant to fruit voids. Widely adapted for cultivation in various zones.
Stabolite F1 is a seedless watermelon in which the highest quality is organically combined with an unrivaled yield and taste. The hybrid is characterized by early ripening (65-70 days). A powerful productive plant with good protection from sunburn. Fruits are oblong-oval with light blurred stripes on a dark background.
The average fruit weight is 8-10 kg; under optimal growing conditions, fruits up to 12-14 kg are easily obtained. The pulp is dark red with small traces of seeds, a pleasant structure with a high sugar content and high taste. Resistant to fusarium races 0.1. The best pollinators for these hybrids are watermelons Trophy F1, Lady F1.
Read the next part. Growing seedlings and pollination of watermelons →
Vladimir Stepanov, Doctor of Biological Sciences
Photo by E. Valentinov
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