Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report 1:17 (article 17) 1978
Improving Self Pollinations in Muskmelon
J. B. Loy and T. Natti
University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824
We have been investigating the problem of low fruit set in hand pollinated muskmelon. Our approach has been the postulation that injury of flowers resulting from emasculation could induce wound ethylene. Excess ethylene production at the time of pollination could affect auxin metabolism and thereby reduce fruit set. We have increased fruit set between 25 to 65 percent by apply 5 µg of an ethylene inhibitor (aminoethoxyvinylglycine-AVG) in lanolin paste to perfect flowers at the time of clipping the petals shut. We are not ready to recommend AVG for use by breeders because we get better results with benzyladenine (BA). Studies are being conducted which involve combinations of BA and AVG.
We have found that considerable would ethylene is liberated from excised flower which have been fully emasculated (corolla and anthers removed). Brush-pollinated (bee simulation) flowers produce low levels of ethylene and anther-only emasculation results in intermediate levels of ethylene production. Also, we have obtained about 85% fruit set in the greenhouse with brush-pollination of non- emasculated flowers; under the same conditions fruit set in emasculated flowers was less than 30%. In using the brush technique, the flowers are clipped shut the night before anthesis with Noesting #2 paper fasteners. The fasteners or clips are removed at the time of pollination and a fine- hair brush is gently swirled and dabbed around the anthers and stigma of the flowers. The corolla is then clipped shut again with the fastener.
This summer we will reconduct self-pollinations on a large scale with the brush method, and will also test the brush method in combination with BA.