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Home HortScience Watermelon Seedlings: Grafted vs. Non-grafted
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SHANGHAI, CHINA—The need for watermelon seedlings is growing. Due to a recent surge in watermelon popularity and resulting production, demand for watermelon seedlings has approached 33 billion per year in China alone.

Understanding optimal production and storage conditions for healthy seedlings is essential to the success of China's commercial watermelon markets. The most common method of preserving seedlings for a short-term period is low-temperature storage in darkness. Although low-temperature storage preserves seedling vigor and inhibits overgrowth, it can reduce seedling quality; interruption of photosynthesis and the low-temperature stress are thought to be the most critical factors affecting the physiological changes of the seedlings during storage.

A study in HortScience reported on the effects of grafting on watermelon seedlings under low-temperature storage in darkness. Grafting, a universally used practice in watermelon production, has been proven to create resistance to root diseases and to increase seedling tolerance to salinity and low-temperature stress. Based on previous research showing that grafted muskmelon seedlings had better storability under low-temperature storage, a team of scientists from the School of Agriculture and Biology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University studied watermelon scions grafted to pumpkin rootstocks.

Results showed that the grafted watermelon seedlings had more soluble sugar and chlorophyll contents, higher activities of antioxidant enzymes, and less malondialdehyde content than the non-grafted ones after storage. In addition, low temperature storage in darkness damaged the photosystem of non-grafted watermelon seedlings more than that of grafted ones. After transplanting, grafted seedlings had a higher net photosynthetic rate.

"These experiments showed that grafted watermelon seedlings had better storability in the conditions of low temperature and darkness compared with non-grafted ones, the result of a higher carbohydrate accumulation before storage," the authors wrote. They added that grafted seedlings also showed better tolerance against low temperatures and darkness during storage and faster recovery after transplanting.


The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortScience electronic journal web site:

Founded in 1903, the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) is the largest organization dedicated to advancing all facets of horticultural research, education, and application. More information at


Original Article:

Physiological Advantages of Grafted Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) Seedlings under Low-temperature Storage in Darkness
Ming Ding, Beibei Bie, Wu Jiang, Qingqing Duan, Hongmei Du, and Danfeng Huang
HortScience 46:993–996. [Abstract][Full Text][PDF]

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