Learning from the tree-fruit industry

03/01/2009 02:00:00 AM

Through its Rogers Brand Vegetable Seeds, Syngenta has offered the Full Count Plant Program since 2002. So adding options for grafted watermelons seemed like a natural extension, says Craig Mathis, Full Count Eastern business manager based in Paducah, Ky.

The Full Count program allows producers to order greenhouse-grown transplants produced from Rogers varieties. The program is especially attractive for hybrids, such as triploid watermelon, which have poor germination in the field, Mathis says.

By using transplants, he says growers can plant to stand and not have large gaps in their rows left by weak seedlings.

Syngenta contracts with several greenhouses throughout the nation, so growers don’t have to. Instead, growers place their orders through their seed salesperson as they’ve always done.

Mathis says Rogers also guarantees plant quality and on-time delivery and can provide back-up transplants should weather take out part of a field.

This spring marks the first season that the Full Count Program will offer grafted watermelons on a limited commercial basis in the Southeast, says David Baquerizo, Full Count Plant Program Eastern production specialist. Eventually, the program will expand nationwide.

Customers can choose a watermelon scion variety, and Syngenta will recommend the appropriate rootstock, based on soil type, pest spectrum, growing climate and scion-rootstock compatibility.

The rootstocks were developed by Syngenta-Korea and have been used successfully there for years. Before Rogers introduced them to the United States, Baquerizo says they were tested under U.S. field conditions to ensure they’d provide similar benefits.

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