Seedless Watermelons - Knowledgebase Question

Deland, FL
Question by Timber9
February 27, 1998
I need all the info you can send me on the use of the pollinator that came with the seedless watermelons seeds I just received in the mail. How and when do you use them? Any info would be greatly appreciated.


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Answer from NGA
February 27, 1998

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Seedless watermelons are sterile hybrids that develop fruits
but no seeds. The seeds for growing them are produced by
crossing a normal watermelon with one that has been changed
genetically by treatment with a chemical called colchicine.
The seeds from this cross produce plants that, when pollinated with pollen from normal plants, produce seedless
melons.

In seedless watermelons, rudimentary seed structures develop, but these are small, soft, white, tasteless, undeveloped seedcoats that are eaten right along with the
flesh of the melon. A Japanese scientist developed the technique for producing seedless watermelons. He reported
his procedures in 1950.

The normal watermelon (called a diploid) has 22 chromosomes percell. By treating seedlings with colchicine, a new plant type called a tetraploid having 44 chromosomes is produced. Then, by crossing a tetraploid with a normal diploid as the pollinator, one gets a triploid (33 chromosomes) seed. This triploid seed produces a sterile hybrid plant that will not reproduce itself (much like the mule). When flowers of this sterile triploid plant (called
the seedless watermelon plant) are pollinated by a normal
plant, seedless fruits develop.

When you plantyour watermelons, just be sure you plant the pollinator seed along with the others, or you will have no watermelons. Treat the pollinator just as you would a regular watermelon plant.


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