This year, the trial included 35 seedless varieties and seven seeded varieties. The high yielder in this trial was Kingman from Sakata. This is the first time Kingman has been entered in this trial.
Other varieties that have appeared in the top 10 within the past several years include Warrior and ACX 6177 from Nunhems, Wolverine from High Mark and Summer Breeze from Seminis. “Most of those varieties are larger, tend to be a 36-count fruit, and so it would be expected that in terms of total yield they would perform better than a variety that’s more catered to a 45-count market,” Coolong explained. He added that the value in the trials is the relative performance of one variety versus another rather than the absolute yields of the watermelon.
Coolong says he tries to keep the trials consistent with those at the University of Florida and Clemson University in order to compare results. To do this, he had to change the in-row spacing in the trial from 3 feet to 3.5 feet a few years ago. With that slight change in spacing, Coolong says he typically gets 1 to 1.2 more pounds of fruit using the 3.5-foot spacing. The increase in weight has been consistent over the past few years.
If your market focuses on smaller fruit though, Coolong advises to stick with the 3-foot spacing in order to get the desired results.
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