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Subject:  Advacing Watermelon Genetics

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jlindley

NE Arkansas

So I've talked to numerous growers and people in the agriculture and plant business. The general question is what is needed to advance giant watermelon genetics? Are making gentic crosses a crap shoot?

What I've come up with is we need to single out the best genes and move forward from there. How do we do it? When growing F1 crosses we need to self more plants or otherwise we are continuing to make a unstable line. An Example is Grower A) he grows 5 watermelons a year. If grower A grows all 5 of the same seed and self's all of them. Then you have kept made the seed a little more stable. You take the best of those 5 and grow 5 of those the following year and self all of them. Now you have made those genetics even more stable and so on.

If grower A does this for 2 seasons and grower b does the same with a different seed then come in and cross the best of those year 2 seeds. Then start the process over again.

This is something I believe is the best way to move us forward. I am open to any ideas and thoughts everyone has. If you have an idea please post it. Critique my proposal. I plan for follow a type of growing plan as I've laid out. I understand not everyone can grow 5 or 8 of the same plant and some people like growing different seeds.

1/29/2019 11:06:48 PM

wile coyote

St. Paul, Minnesota

I am growing some of Big Moon's JBD X Carolina Cross seeds this year that were developed by Chris Kent. I don't know how many other people are growing this cross.

1/29/2019 11:22:56 PM

big moon

Bethlehem CT

Supposedly, Gabriele Bartoli's 245 was created by crossing the Carolina Cross with a Crimson Sweet. He must have kept back crossing the Carolina Cross to get the size back into them. With the CC x JBD crosses that were started by Chris Kent, they have size on both sides with the Black Diamond producing his 205 and the CC producing one over 300 and another in the high 200's. I don't think it will take that many generations to get them to be competitive at the weigh offs. Heck if I can grow a 175, 165, 163 and many, more with out proper care, in a less than ideal climate and a wet crappy growing season. I would imagine a heavy hitter could really do some real damage with them.

1/30/2019 7:32:58 PM

big moon

Bethlehem CT

Pumpkin weights have skyrocketed over the past 10 years. It seems with the pumpkins there have been several key seeds that have played a huge part in this. Starting with the 1068 Wallace to the 1385 Jutras, to the 1725 Harp, to the 2009 Wallace to the 2145 McMullen. Inbreeding on top of inbreeding. Yet the size keep getting bigger. I am not sure if melons are the same or not. The closest we have had to a silver bullet (break through) type seed is the 239 Leonard. I think in melons a lot of the recent jumps have come from grafting and improved cultivation methods. Not as much from genetics. I would love to hear other's thoughts on this.

1/30/2019 7:40:43 PM

jlindley

NE Arkansas

Problem with the 239 Leonard is there were very few selfed, they were either crossed so sibb which goes back to a F1 and unstable. On the 245 bartoli, most of theirs came from the bright line of seeds. They did have a 245 open pollinate on one of the 300s and it's believed to be crossed with a crimson sweet. I'll have to look and see which one it is. I'm fairly certain the 245 Bartoli comes from the 268.8 Bright.

1/31/2019 2:51:09 PM

big moon

Bethlehem CT

You may be right about the selfing thing. Christy Harp selfed her 1725 pumpkin back in 09. Many growers including myself didn't like selfed seeds. That 1725 proved all the doubters to be wrong. Since that time pumpkin weights have really skyrocketed. Pretty much all the pumpkins over 2,000 pounds have the 1725 in their background. Maybe a selfed 239 offspring would have made something special.

1/31/2019 8:17:19 PM

MidWestGrower

MidWestIllinois

Would a sib cross be as strong as a selfed? I had 3 plants last year that were from the same mother seed and crossed all 3 by sib.

2/3/2019 8:29:23 PM

MidWestGrower

MidWestIllinois

I actually had 4 plants last year including my daughters plant that were crossed by the same seed.

2/3/2019 10:13:20 PM

jlindley

NE Arkansas

Joe with the sibbing you still have an unstable cross. By selfing you preserve those actual genetics.

2/4/2019 8:31:04 PM

brotherdave

Corryton, TN

The breeding process you described should get us to larger weights IF the genes are there to do it. I’m not convinced they are. I think the top traditional weights now being in the 290ish area and grafted in the 330 ish are a result of more growers and the sharing of techniques. With the good discussion we had here in Dec. of 2017 it was brought to our attention that most if not all of today’s genetics are a result of 2 melons. One grown in 1983 and one in 1985. That’s a mighty small gene pool. I’m of the opinion that we need to bring in some older genetics and/or different lines of melons to try and capture some different genes or variations of them that will help us increase these weights. At the 2018 Southern Growers Meeting Dr.McGregor spoke about a large hard rind melon called makataan which could possibly have something to offer. I planted some 1984 Bright seeds and selfed them last year which could have some lost genes. Going to play with a large, long, dark rind heirloom variety this year.

2/5/2019 10:38:18 AM

big moon

Bethlehem CT

That is interesting I didn't know that all the melons are basically descended from two melons.

2/5/2019 11:08:36 AM

Tennessee Dreamer (Team Bubba)

Malabon City, Manila, The Philippines

Brother Dave, to get to heavier weights, I think we need a "mad" scientist who is able to splice a "fat" gene, maybe from a Atlantic Giant,into a good Carolina Cross seed with the resulting melon selfed so as to not diminish the resulting genetic creation. The creator of this new line would even get to name it since it would no longer genetically be a true Carolina Cross. Or maybe we could wait a few thousand years for a natural mutation to take place.It will sure be a lot of fun when someone creates the genetic line that will take us up to a whole new level of potential size. Eventually some genetic meddlers are bound to turn their attention away from feeding hungry masses & toward creating monster size melon genetics. I would venture to bet that gene splicing is a very delicate, drawn out & expensive process at this point in time but I think most of us are aware it is possible. We just need to find the right person who is able to get this done. For the most part,there are certainly more important things for scientific research & development. Hobby or sports genetics development as this might be called, may take a long time to get around to. But I know it is possible. We just need the right person with the proper knowledge & resources.

2/6/2019 4:11:14 PM

brotherdave

Corryton, TN

That might work!
On the serious side if a gene getting spliced was to work it would have to be cleared through the USDA, EPA and another agency which I can't remember right now. Dealing with that right now with American Chestnut trees and 1 single gene that has proven to make them immune to the blight.

2/6/2019 8:51:54 PM

brotherdave

Corryton, TN

FDA is the other agency.

2/6/2019 9:12:47 PM

Tennessee Dreamer (Team Bubba)

Malabon City, Manila, The Philippines

That is a sad sign of the times Dave. So was the resistant chestnut tree gene spliced ? Or are you telling us they are trying to block genetic improvements that occurred through selection of a natural occurrence ? I mean that is no more than slightly aiding nature by reproducing what developed more or less naturally. Looks like way too much government interference here. Do they somehow think the reestablishment of American chestnut trees would harm nature ? What do they tell you the problem is ? Or do they tell you nothing at all ? Seems like if they had their way we would have no human influenced genetic improvements at all. If I were in the US federal government, I would feel embarrassed by this archaic stance. It is as if they might block any sort of genetic improvement for any plant. That is moronically dumb.

2/6/2019 11:35:01 PM

jlindley

NE Arkansas

There are a few growers Dave who have seeds prior to 83 and 85. Every year an older seed gets a spot or 2 in my patch. This year it's the 268.8 Bright. Plan is to self both and use one as a pollinator to a current seed. Everything else will be selfed in my patch.

Dave what are your thoughts on crossing the jumbo black diamonds or blue rinds with the CC? I know Chris did a CC x JBD cross and it was grown last year. Not sure if Big Moon selfed them or not. But the jbd and blues have much thicker rinds

2/7/2019 12:31:20 AM

brotherdave

Corryton, TN

TD - Times are great! What they have done is like changing one word in a 40,000 word novel. The gene was spliced in several years ago. Clones produced and grown out for testing. The trees have strong resistance to the blight. Just waiting on approval from all three agencies before the trees can be mass produced and distributed. Goal is to have 10,000 trees ready once approved. Process estimated to take 3-5 years.

JL - I have no idea where the next possible genetic improvement might come from or if it is even out there. Rind thickness may be the answer. I've been an advocate for eliminating hollow heart but maybe that is the exact wrong way to increase these weights. Huge rind thickness and less red and more fibrous inside may be the answer, similar to a cantaloupe or pumpkin. After each year of growing I end up with a longer list of questions and a shorter list of answers.

2/7/2019 6:01:27 AM

big moon

Bethlehem CT

There were two seeds that Chris produced, they were the 52 and 61 Kent. This is what they looked like.
http://www.bigpumpkins.com/Diary/DiaryViewOne.asp?eid=268004

I took the 52 and 61 Kent and grew 12 plants. I did not hand pollinate the melons but they were grown in an isolated field almost a mile from where I live. The genes should all be selfed or sibbed or a cross between the 52 and 61. It will be interesting to see how this years F2 offspring look. THe F1 melons were nice looking and had thick rinds, all the ones I weighed went to the chart despite having hollow hearts.

2/7/2019 10:22:50 AM

MidWestGrower

MidWestIllinois

I just read a study on 'Natural Outcrossing In Watermelon - A Review' by Rakesh Kumar & Todd C. Wehner, Dept of Science NC State. Genetic variability is a measure of the tendency of individual genotypes in a population to vary from one another. With that definition of Genetic Variability the following in the report is as follows & Jeremy this may very well be one of the reports you've read so sorry if this is old news! As a result of inbreeding, co-ancestry among half-sibs will be greater than expected (5). Due to self pollination, variability within families decreases and variability among families increases. The breeding methods applied to self-pollinated crops are distinct from that for cross-pollinated crops. Pretty cool read if anyone is interested.

2/8/2019 9:53:33 AM

Tennessee Dreamer (Team Bubba)

Malabon City, Manila, The Philippines

Link ?

2/8/2019 9:28:13 PM

jlindley

NE Arkansas

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/d10f/a02644b462f5882cbcfe1ff456e7dfab3074.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwil1vHp6K3gAhUG04MKHRvzCYUQFjAAegQIBhAB&usg=AOvVaw3NSxTXzIP8yXEa3iVnRlB2

2/8/2019 11:32:29 PM

big moon

Bethlehem CT

This confirms what I have seen and experienced with my watermelons. For example my 95 and 85 Melons (dark rind type) in 2013 were grown next to a Carolina Cross maybe 20'- 30' apart. (normal spacing for giant melons) . I have grown out many Of my 85 and 95 seeds which were both open pollinated. I have yet to grow out a cross. They have all been dark rinded, I have not gotten even one hybrid like the 52 or 61 Kent.

2/9/2019 8:47:33 AM

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