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Watermelon production and breeding in South Korea

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The area used for watermelon cultivation in South Korea peaked at 45,207 hectares in 1995, but it has declined in each of the successive years. In 2011, watermelon ranked sixth highest in seed sales for vegetable crops in South Korea. Diverse F1 hybrid cultivars with superior characteristics are produced mainly by the private sector for both the domestic market and overseas export. Breeding goals have shifted from high-yield and hypertrophic fruits for open-field culture to high-quality fruits resistant to soil-borne diseases and abiotic stresses for greenhouse culture. Consumers' and growers' preferences for watermelon now encompass a wide range of fruit sizes and colors, in addition to high functional contents such as citrullin and lycopene. However, sweetness is still a prerequisite for a high quality cultivar. Since grafting of watermelon to the rootstock of bottle gourd or zucchini is a critical cultivation method, seed sales of these two rootstocks is an important market in South Korea. Although development of new cultivars relies mainly on conventional breeding methods, molecular markers are being used in breeding programs of watermelon in South Korea.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Horticultural Bioscience, Pusan National University ; 2: Department of Animal Science, Pusan National University


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