... growing and hybridizing all kinds of plants in zone 6b Maryland since the 1980's.

Monday, October 10, 2011

'Moon and Stars' Outcross - Watermelon

I purchased seeds of 'Moon and Stars' watermelon in 2009 from a local store. I don't know if the strain is a poor one or if it's just been the poor growing conditions but I haven't had any fruits that are of a respectable size.  2010 and 2011 have both been VERY dry, but in 2009 when conditions were pretty good they weren't big either. I've been growing other watermelons all around them and trying to keep an eye out for obvious intercrosses like this one, so I can do some selection for improvement. This fruit is larger than all of the rest - still pretty small (I should've measured) - most of the fruits are only about softball sized or smaller. It also has a striped background color rather than the solid dark green of the original purchased strain. And it has noticeably smaller seeds, though still black. The flesh color is different too. It doesn't have quite as much of the orange tint and yellow inner rind (that the original strain has). My guess is that this is from an outcross to a small-seeded, very sweet watermelon that we'd grown back in 2009. I don't know it's name. It was saved from a storebought watermelon. I've also grown about 5 or 6 other varieties that could have been the pollen donor.
This year, in addition to growing the original 'Moon and Stars' and its outcross hybrids, I also purchased seeds of  'Ali Baba' and grew a patch among the others. The 'Ali Baba' seemed like it might be a little more vigorous and disease resistant, but it didn't fruit very much. I'm hoping that I find a few seedlings from the saved seeds of 'Ali Baba' that have the 'Moon and Stars' spotting, so that I can blend these into the mix. Eventually I hope to have something that reliably produces normal-sized melons here. I'd prefer them to have sweet and intensely-red flesh. I don't much care about the size of the seeds, but I do think it's best when they're dark black. In addition to being really pretty against the red background, jet-black seeds are easier to spot while chowing down. So while all the blending of strains is going on, I'll accept whatever I get, but the target will have to narrow down as generations advance.

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