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Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative Report 10:91 (article 49) 1987

A source of Genes for Improved Fruit Color and Large Fruit Size in Cucurbita moschata

R. W. Robinson, J. W. Shail, and G. Moriarty

Horticultural Sciences Department, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, NY 14456

PI 287531, an introduction from Naples, Italy of the cultivar Long Neopolitan, was included in the 1980 planting of Cucurbita maxima at the North East Regional Plant Introduction Station at Geneva, NY. Although originally identified as C. maxima, its fruit shape, peduncle, and other traits were more typical of C. moschata. It crossed readily with C. moschata cv. Butternut but not with C. maxima, confirming its identity as C. moschata. It did have two features, however, more characteristic of C. maxima than of C. moschata: extremely large fruit size and very deep orange flesh color, presumably due to [beta]-carotene. Fruit of such large size is seldom encountered in any Cucurbita species other than maxima, and the bright, intense orange flesh color is unusual for C. moschata.

'Butternut' and 'Long Neopolitan' have similar phenotype but different genotypes for fruit shape. The F1 had large, oval fruit, and the F2 segregated for round, oval, and intermediate types as well as for the elongated neck type that is characteristic of both parents.

'Long Neopolitan' is of interest as a parent, due to its fruit flesh having such an attractive appearance, both in color and texture, and to its very long, thick neck that is devoid of seeds. Its appearance of good fruit quality, however, is misleading; the flavor, alas, is insipid and disappointing. The poor flavor is attributed to the low soluble solids content, only about a third of that of 'Butternut' fruit. The usefulness of 'Long Neopolitan' as a parent would be jeopardized if its large fruit size were genetically associated with low soluble solids content, with solids content being diluted in large fruited segregants. Fortunately, however, it was possible to recover F2 plants with large fruit and acceptable soluble solids content. Soluble solids content of fruit from 122 F2 plants ranged from 5.5 to 10.5%, and was not closely correlated with fruit weight (r = 0.098) or fruit length (r = - 0.034).

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Page citation: Wehner, T.C., Cucurbit Genetics Cooperative;
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send questions to T.C. Wehner; last revised on 16 October, 2009