With a scarlet filling like heat,
Lies in the garden like a load
Tell me, what is it ...? "
"Watermelon": - will answer easily not only a schoolboy, but even a younger child. The secret is simple - next to the letter "A" on the cubes and in the primer there is most often a picture of this wonderful sweet, juicy and huge berry.
The idea that a popular dessert fruit-vegetable must necessarily be round, striped, with "bones", red pulp and can only grow in the south, was an immutable truth only in the last century. Now watermelons grow well both in the south of Russia and in the middle zone, Siberia, the Urals and even in the polar regions. Moreover, in shape they can resemble zucchini and pumpkins, have white, black, yellow, dark or light green monochromatic peel, pink or lemon-colored pulp, be with small edible seeds and without them at all, and be served not only in August, but also at the beginning of summer, and for the New Year holidays. With such a variety of watermelons, it is not surprising that it is difficult to choose a variety suitable for a summer cottage, garden or farm plot. And yet it is possible to understand the "sea" of options.
From the royal "watermelon gardens" to the present day
The success of melon cultivation is predetermined by the biological characteristics of the variety. And they depend on which group this or that watermelon belongs to. Recall that the history of the domestic watermelon began in 1560, when, thanks to the order of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich, watermelons were supplied to the royal court from Astrakhan, in the vicinity of which "watermelon and melon gardens" were arranged. However, everywhere they began to break melon in the lower reaches of the Volga by order of Peter 1, after his successful treatment with watermelons during a trip to the Caspian Sea. I will note that already at that time there were green and white varieties, and it was the latter that contributed to the recovery of the sovereign.
There were no varieties of our own then. Therefore, they sowed, mainly, Turkish and Iranian watermelons - large-fruited, with bright red flesh, but cracking, not lying and slightly sugary. Russians love sweet fruits. The situation was complicated by the fact that the steppes in our south are shallow. However, the peasants could not disobey and not fulfill the tsar's order, and year after year they sowed and looked for better forms. So, as a result of selection for drought resistance, size, sweetness, the ancestors of the famous Russian (Astrakhan, Volgograd) and southern Ukrainian varieties appeared. Watermelons of this group, especially varieties intended for cultivation on dry land (without irrigation), do not tolerate a humid climate. Rain at the end of the season is a sure death for them, and the hotter and drier the air, the sweeter the steppe watermelon. That is why southern varieties, if they grow in the middle lane, give small, fresh fruits.
Fruiting in the Non-Black Earth Region, however, if you keep the plants in a greenhouse, the descendants of Russian varieties, exported to Europe and replenished the "blood", for example, Dutch watermelons. The Dutch made them leveled and better adapted to cool and damp climates.
Watermelons of the East Asian group (Japan, China, India) have completely different properties. Early ripening, resistant to monsoons and powdery mildew, very sweet, tender, with a thin, usually dark green, monochromatic bark, varied flesh color - they feel good in our Far East. However, in the Volga region, Chinese varieties will not please with the result.
But the Americans, who have been breeding this culture for a little over 150 years, have already used the best qualities of the Russian, European and Asian groups of watermelons to create their varieties and hybrids. Their watermelons are mostly oval, moderately sweet, but juicy, with grainy, often pink flesh and are rather stable and transportable, since they have a dense, thick bark. But since American varieties and hybrids are less drought tolerant and require watering, they suffer in hot summers.So, crops with foreign hybrids almost completely died in the drought of 2010 and 2011. Domestic varieties have endured extreme conditions and yielded a harvest.
How to choose varieties of watermelons for growing
Until the beginning of the 90s, domestic varieties of watermelon were mainly grown in our country. Now gardeners have access to all the world achievements in breeding melons and gourds. Indeed, after the entry into force of the amendments to the Civil Code, seeds of varieties and hybrids, both zoned and included in the State Register of Breeding Achievements, and not included in it, go on sale. However, the melon grower must choose between stability, reliability and experimentation. In other words, to make a choice between the samples that have passed the test at the state variety sections, and those that have passed it. However, even if you limit yourself only to registered varieties, it is mistaken to rely on a couple of varieties, albeit those that have shown themselves well. Indeed, next year they may lose, and completely different varieties will bring income: climatic conditions are changing.
Therefore, it is necessary to regularly update the melons and gourds. It is best to grow three to five proven varieties of the same ripening period, setting aside a small part of the land to test new breeding products. If you do not do this, very soon you will fall behind and find yourself "out of the market". Therefore, a professional melon grower must cultivate 8-10 types of watermelon of different ripeness to obtain a harvest, and about the same for testing. At the same time, beginner melon growers should take into account that it is easier to master the agricultural technology of ground large-seeded varieties (it is easier to sow them evenly, to get friendly shoots), for example, Astrakhan, Nice, Crimson Sweet, AU-Producer, Extraordinary, Chill, the more hybrids, the more fine-seeded. It is even more difficult to grow seedless watermelons, which are especially in need of careful care.
In addition, the production conveyor is very important, which allows you to regularly harvest fruits from July to September as they ripen. To get a harvest from mid-late July, early varieties and hybrids, mainly American ones, are sown under the film. They are sown one and a half weeks later in open ground (harvesting is completed by mid-August), then ground mid-season and mid-late watermelons are placed (Nice, Extraordinary), ripening by the second half of August, and, finally, late ripening (Chill), which are harvested from the end of August until the cold weather.
The sowing structure can be something like this: early, under the film: early soil: mid-ripening: mid-late: late are placed in a ratio of 3: 1: 0.5: 1: 0.5, three names of watermelon in each group. Such a structure not only provides a conveyor of products, but also allows to evenly distribute the forces of the farmer during sowing, weeding, and caring for plants.
The next criterion when choosing a watermelon variety is the length of the growing season (the time from emergence to harvest). For example, in the Non-Black Earth Region (Moscow, Ivanovskaya, Kostromskaya, Pskov, Leningrad, Arkhangelsk regions), early varieties (70-80 days) are successful, such as: Twinkle, Sugarbaby (Suga Baby), Ultra-Ripe, GiftSiberia, F1Semko, Spring, Skorik, Photon, Rose of the South-East, Gift of the sun. They are more cold-resistant in comparison with mid- and late-ripening varieties and in a short growing season (the number of warm days) they have time to ripen in the northern regions of melon growing. In the Urals (Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk regions, Perm Territory) and in Bashkiria, they also succeed VNIIOB2, Zenith, Astrakhan. In Altai, in Novosibirsk, Kemerovo, Tomsk and Irkutsk regions (with a short but hot and sunny summer), in addition to varieties and hybrids of watermelon for the Non-Black Earth Region, according to the observations of gardeners, they ripen Dessert 83, Leader, Crimson Sweet, Olginsky, Early Kuban, Charleston Gray and hybrids Madeira, Sympathy, Crimson Glory... According to the data of the State Commission for Registration of Breeding Achievements of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, varieties VNIIOB2, Zenith, Twinkle, Early Kuban, Photon, Skorik have proven themselves well in the Far East, and the variety Earthling and hybrid Cadia - in the Black Earth Region. Everywhere, including in the Black Earth Region, Siberia and the middle lane, of course, subject to regional agricultural technology, varieties are successful Coral, Peasant, Leader, Lunar, Presentsun, Svyatoslav, Start, SRD 2 and hybrids Dolby, Dumara, Chrisby, Lady, Joy, Surprise, Trophy, Helen... True, it is preferable to grow them through seedlings, under a temporary film cover or in a warm garden bed. However, modern shelters and heating systems allow watermelon lovers to grow late-ripening varieties, thereby extending the season for fresh fruit consumption.
Of course, the widest assortment of varieties and hybrids of watermelon is offered for traditional melon growing zones. But varieties AU Producer, Blessed, Galaxy, Handsome, Crimson Wonder, Olginsky, Spring, Stimulus, Black Prince and hybrids Bonus, Warda, Vasco, Victoria, Daytona, Carolyn, Candy, ChimeraCrimson Ruby, Krimstar, Montana, Madison, Nelson, Olinda, Paladin, Romanza, Silvia, Celebration, Sorento, Stabolite, Stetson, Dandy, Farao feel better in the Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories, the Rostov Region and other regions of the North Caucasus. In the Lower Volga region (Astrakhan, Volgograd, Saratov regions) varieties Bykovsky 22, Delight, Pulse, Lotus, Competitor, New from Astrakhan, Osceola, Jubilee 72 and hybrids American, Grail, Itil, Caravan, CrimsonRecord, CrimsonPrint, CrimsonTide, Melania, Top Gun, Toutal, Florida, Eureka.
Of course, one must take into account why they plan to grow a watermelon. It is one thing to surprise and delight household members, friends and neighbors, and another thing to get an income. An amateur melon grower, in addition to a variety of fruit forms, may be interested in taste, color of bark and pulp, and the number of seeds in a watermelon. Yes, and it makes no sense for summer residents to rush with the harvest. After all, mid-season varieties that are harvested in mid-August receive a more gentle and generous sun than July or September.
If you grow watermelons for saleIn the commercial cultivation of watermelons, the farmer, in addition to the yield of watermelons, must take into account the marketability (attractive appearance, uniformity of ripening, keeping quality) of the variety, the period of receipt of products. Early watermelons are more expensive and therefore profitable. In addition, they are suitable for cultivation in tunnels, which also brings the time of revenue closer (in the Astrakhan Region, Krasnodar Territory, the sale of the crop begins at the end of June). Late watermelons are suitable for pickling, storage and sale in late autumn (some late varieties, harvested in September, lie before the New Year, or even longer).
When growing watermelons for sale, it is important to take into account the preferences of buyers. For example, Tavrian (the most delicious and fruitful variety in Ukraine) is eagerly bought in the Kuban and Rostov region. But the inhabitants of the middle lane will be indifferent to him because of the white seeds. By the way, in the south of Russia other watermelons of Ukrainian breeding are also beating their way: Knyazhich (more easy-going descendant Crimson Sweet), Snowball (late-ripening light-barked variety, stored for several months), Kherson and Successful (resistant to major diseases, including alternaria, from which often suffers Crimson Sweet), Tread (accumulates a lot of pectin, due to which it effectively cleans the body of radionuclides and heavy metals). Many buyers are not satisfied with the pale, light-fleshed fruits of Dutch varieties and hybrids, believing that the watermelons are not ripe.
I also like less watermelons with an abundance of "seeds". And not only because it is inconvenient to eat them: energy is spent on the development of seeds. It is believed that the proportion of seeds should not exceed 0.5% by weight of the pulp. If there are more of them, then the fruits are less sweet, less mellow.But the seedless fruits of triploid hybrids are not to everyone's taste: they have a very dense pulp, while Russians prefer it when it melts in their mouth. Perhaps in the coming years, dessert watermelons with very small seeds that can be eaten safely by swallowing the seeds will become popular. In addition, such watermelon hybrids produce very beautiful fruits. Alas, they often have a thin bark, and therefore they are poorly stored.
The characteristic of the variety or hybrid helps to choose the right watermelon for your site. The seller of seeds is obliged to inform it. He, according to the current Civil Code, is responsible for the inaccuracy of information. But since each company praises and talks only about its own product, for comparison I will give the characteristics of the varieties and hybrids of watermelon most often sold in Russia. And having chosen a variety or hybrid from a huge list, the melon grower will only have to use the correct agricultural technique, which is now no less diverse, and which will be discussed in the next article.
For help in preparing the material, the author expresses gratitude to the outstanding melon breeders of our country: N.I. Tsybulevsky, K.E. Dyutin, S.D. Sokolov and O.P. Varivode.
Description of varieties and hybrids of watermelon:
Early varieties and hybrids of watermelon
Mid-season varieties and hybrids of watermelon
Mid-late and late varieties and hybrids of watermelon
Recommendations for the selection of varieties and hybrids of watermelon