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"Birdsnest" melons from Iran: Germplasm for concentrated yield in time and position

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Melons (Cucumis melo) are an important vegetable crop. Melons are grown mostly for their sweet mature fruits, which are eaten fresh, but elongate-fruited forms are grown for their rather bland, juicy, immature fruits, which are eaten fresh, cooked, or pickled like cucumbers. Fruit set of melons is diffuse over time and space, resulting in the need for multiple harvesting of the crop. The "birdsnest" phenotype, which originated in Iran, offers a germplasm source of concentrated fruit set and the possibility of reducing the number of harvests or even allowing a profitable once-over harvest. Herein are summarized and fully referenced our efforts at introgressing the birdsnest phenotype into both sweet and pickling melons. Backcross-pedigree breeding was used to introgress increased branching and concentrated yield into germplasm possessing high-quality, sweet fruits, including the parents of the famous ‘Galia’ hybrid. These efforts culminated in the release, in 1989, of the high-quality, concentrated-yielding muskmelon ‘Qalya’. Also, they led to the development of germplasm combining birdsnest with hermaphroditism in breeding lines of pickling melons. This germplasm has the ability to produce several times more yield than pickling cucumbers, in single- as well as multiple-harvest operations. In the future, an expected shortage of hand labor will probably result in new interest in usage of this genetic source.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Vegetable Crops and Plant Genetics, Institute of Plant Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Newe Ya'ar Research Center ; 2: Department of Vegetable Crops and Plant Genetics, Institute of Plant Sciences, Agricultural Research Organization, Newe Ya'ar Research Center


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