Watermelon Variety Trial (1980)

Research report from OSU's North Willamette Agricultural Research and Extension Center

Delbert Hemphill
OSU Dept of Horticulture, NWREC

This trial included 26 varieties or experimental lines from a total of eight seed companies. Production of watermelons in the Willamette Valley is limited by the cool growing season and proximity to major production areas of Eastern Oregon and California. Market garden production requires high quality, productive, disease-resistant, early maturing varieties. For the home garden, the same qualities are desirable, although keeping quality is less important.


All varieties were seeded in a heated greenhouse on April 24, 1980, and transplanted to black plastic-covered beds on May 28. The plot area received a broadcast application of three tons/acre of lime, 1,000 pounds/acre of 10-20-10, 100 pounds/acre of calcium nitrate, 100 pounds/acre of Epsom salts, and 50 pounds/acre of fritted trace elements. Viaflo tubing was used for drip irrigation and an additional 20 pounds/acre of N was applied through the drip system in mid-August. Nine plants of each variety, in three randomly distributed replications of three plants each, were set through holes cut in the plastic mulch and watered in with a cup of 2 ounces/gallon of 10-30-20. Volcanic ash covered the beds on May 25. Much ash was subsequently washed into transplant holes and may have contributed to poor early growth of many plants.


Table 6 presents yield, mean fruit weight, rank by yield, and percentage of fruit harvested during August, September, and October for the 15 varieties judged most successful in terms of yield, quality, and earliness. Table 7 lists the sources of these varieties and comments on fruit type and quality.

It should be noted that the heat unit accumulation (50°F base) for June, July, and August, 1980, was 10 percent below the previous 20-year average. Thus, bloom tended to be late, fruit set may have been affected, and maturity probably was later than in most years. However, very few fruit failed to ripen by first frost on October 23.

The highest yielder was New Shipper with a mean fruit weight of 18 pounds but only fair fruit set. Other large fruited varieties were Klondike Striped Blue Ribbon, Prince Charles, Sweet Favorite, Allsweet, and Crimson Sweet. Greatest fruit set was on Northern Sweet, Global X4901, Golden Midget, and New Hampshire Midget.

Flavor favorites were Seedless 313, Prince Charles, Yellow Baby, Yellow Doll, Klondike Striped Blue Ribbon, Crimson Sweet, and New Shipper. Considering the combination of earliness, good flavor and texture, yield, and large fruit size, the most successful varieties were New Shipper, Klondike SBR, Seedless 313, Yellow Doll, You Sweet Thing, and Burpee's Fordhook. It was very difficult to judge the ripeness of the varieties Early Canada, Kengarden, Market Midget, and X4901. Color of ground spot, dryness of the tendril at the node to which the fruit is attached, and thumping consistently failed to indicate when these varieties were ripe. Fruit of Kengarden, Golden Midget, Market Midget, and New Hampshire Midget were too small for commercial production.

A more complete report, including the varieties Yellow Baby, Burpee Seedless, New Hampshire Midget, Sugar Bush, Global X4901, Early Canada, Market Midget, Kengarden, Golden Midget, Panonia, and Stoke's Sugar, may be obtained from the author.

  Table 6. Yield, Size and Harvest Period of Watermelon Varieties, 1980                             Percent harvested by date   Yield     Rank by   Mean fruit  Variety             8/29 9/29 10/22 10/31Z    tons/acre   yield     wt. (lb)  _____________________________________________________________________________  New Shipper           0   84    16    0        35.1a        1         18.0   Klondike Striped BR  12   54    34    0        33.8ab       2         15.5   Seedless 313         58   23    19    0        30.3bc       3          9.7  Yellow Doll          20   64    14    2        27.9cd       4          8.3  You Sweet Thing      33   41    24    2        26.3d	    5         10.7   Sweet Favorite        6   69    25    0        26.2d        6         13.5   Northern Sweet        9   52    39    0        25.9de       7          6.7   Peacock WR60          0   61    39    0        25.7de       8         11.7   Burpee Fordhook      30   34    34    2        25.6de       9         12.3   Northern Delight     37   46    15    2        24.4de      11          9.9  Prince Charles       21   63    16    0        22.2ef	   12         15.5   All Sweet             0   75    22    3        19.5fg      14         13.7  Crimson Sweet         0   97     3    0        19.lfg	   15         13.4   Super Sweet Seedless 37   63     0    0        16.1gh      16          8.3  Sugar Baby           53   34    13    0        13.1h       21          8.4     ZPercent of fruit not ripened before first killing frost (October 23, 1980).      Table 7. Sources of Watermelon Varieties and Comments                             Variety         Source   Comments                                                 Allsweet           6Z    Long, cylindrical, striped light green fruit; pink                            flesh, small seeds, good flavor; poor fruit set, low                            vigor, rather late maturing.   Burpee Fordhook    1     Round, dark green fruit; red flesh, small seeds, good                           flavor, sweet; poor fruit s-et; some fruit early but                           wide maturity range.  Crimson Sweet      1     Round, striped light green fruit, red flesh, large                           heart, good flavor; poor fruit set; mid-season maturity.  Klondike Striped    Blue Ribbon      2     Oblong, striped light green fruit; pink flesh, small                           heart; good flavor; fair fruit set; large fruit; mid                             season; vigorous.  New Shipper        3     Round, dark green fruit; red flesh, large black seeds,                           good flavor; fair fruit set, very large fruit;                            concentrated mid-season maturity.  Northern Delight   6     Oblong, striped, light green fruit; pink flesh, small                            seeds, fair flavor; fair fruit set; early.  Northern Sweet     3     Round, striped, light green fruit; pink flesh, large                            pale seeds, fair flavor; good set of small fruit; mid-                           season maturity.  Peacock WR60       2     Round, dark green fruit; red flesh, fair flavor; fair                           fruit set; mid-season maturity.  Prince Charles     7     Large, cylindrical, patterned green fruit; pink flesh,                           large seeds, good flavor; poor fruit set; fairly early.  Seedless 313       4     Round, striped, light green fruit; pink flesh,                           seedless, good flavor; good fruit set; very early.  Sugar Baby         4     Round, dark green fruit; salmon flesh, seeds few and                           small, fair flavor; poor set; early.  Super Sweet     Seedless         5     Round, striped, light green fruit; pink flesh,                           seedless, good flavor; fair set; early.  Sweet Favorite     1     Large, oblong, striped, light green fruit; red flesh,                            good flavor; fair set; mid-season maturity.  Yellow Doll        7     Round-oval, striped, light green fruit; yellow flesh,                           good flavor; good fruit set; fairly early.  You Sweet Thing    5     Round, striped, light green fruit; pink flesh, large                           black seeds, fair flavor; fair fruit set; early but                            with wide maturity spread.                                 ZSources: (1) Burpee Seed Co. (2) Ferry Morse Seed Co. (3) Gurney Seed Co.            (4) Jos. Harris Co. (5) Geo. Park Seed Co.	(6) Stokes Seeds, Inc.             (7) Petoseed, Inc.