North Carolina State University has had a breeding program
on watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) for decades.
Warren Barham was the first watermelon
breeder, starting around 1953. He worked with pathologist
Nash Winstead, who went into administration in 1961. One of
Dr. Barham's graduate students was Tom Konsler, who later
became a faculty member in the department. In 1958, Dr.
Barham left to work as an onion breeder for Basic Vegetable, Inc, a vegetable dehydration company in Vacaville, CA (then Texas A&M
Univ., then Barham Seeds). Warren Henderson took over the
program in 1959. He worked with pathologist Sam Jenkins
(1961-1986). Dr. Henderson retired in 1992, and Todd Wehner
took over in 1993. The other U.S. public watermelon breeding
program is located at Texas A&M University.
The objectives of the program are to expand our knowledge
of watermelon genetics and breeding, educate graduate students
interested in vegetable breeding, do research on problems
affecting the watermelon industry, and develop improved
cultivars and breeding lines for use in North Carolina and