The Q&A Archives: Strange pollination of watermelons

Question: I have been growing watermelon varieties successfully for 7 years; last summer i had a strange incident occur with my varieties. I received seedless seed from another local seedhouse. then started the seeds inside in March with a pollinator in each peat pot. I used grow lights to keep them healthy. Later I transferred yellow seedless and red seedless plants to separate areas of the garden. Close by I grew Crimson Sweet watermelons, which are the seeded variety. The crops flourished and in late August, I picked the seedless varieties for eating. Since I marked the hills very accurately, there were no mistakes. Both the yellow and red seedless variieties used the small dark green melons as pollinators, which were also in abundance. The resultswere numerous red seedless watermelons , but NO yellow variety appeared. Maybe the seedhouse had a mix up. However, two of the assumed red seedless varities were loaded with seeds,very similar in detail to the Crimson Sweet Host, growing 15 feet away. The seedless melons and Crimson Sweet are distinctively different in size and coloring; I reported this strange phenenoma to Otis Twilley, the seedhouse and they said this could not happen. My questions are : 1. Is the red seedless variety dominant? 2. Is it possible that No Yellow melons could be produced under selected conditions. 3. The smaller red seedless variety with two melons loaded with black seeds, ala Crimson Sweet , I consider a pollination phenenoma. Since I have been growingmelons, I am currently working on a orange seedless variety. It would be interesting to cross the Orangeglo variety to create an orange seedless with all of the desirable features of the parent. I guess I could understand not getting any yellow seeds, via seedhouse accident but, but the load of seeds in two other reds was interesting.

Answer: That is certainly a strange happening getting only red seedless watermelons and some with sees in them. I think you're correct in saying that the Crimson Sweet melon caused a pollination incident with a few of the seedless melons. But why no yellow seedless melons? My only guess would be the yellow seedless is less dominant than the red and they died out. Or the seeds got mixed up in the seedhouse and you got just red seedless. Either way, it's got me stumped. You could try calling the vegetablespecialist at Penn State -Mike Orzolek, 814-863-2251 and see if he has any ideas.

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