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Watermelon-Citron Melon Hybrids

Selecting the best genetics of landrace watermelon and citron melons for Northern Colorado, USA. Looking for unique traits such as deep citron roots that thrive in poor soil, drought adaption, yellow ripening genetics, sweet domestic watermelon flesh, and possibly winter storage watermelons that keep 3-6 months.

Using my landrace watermelon bred to thrive in Nothern Colorado I have crossed domestic landrace watermelon with red-seeded citron melons with high pectin (normally used for preserves). Wide variability has shown a range of interesting traits such as better roots for growth in poor soil, drought tolerance, better nutrient gathering, yellow rind traits when ripe, thin rind for maximum edibility, frost tolerance, etc. I plan to select the best to thrive here in northern colorado and make my landrace watermelon even better.

Collaborators wanted in the rocky mountain northern areas primarily, but already have collaborators In Europe and Australia as well.

Researcher background
I've grown teosinte that thrives outside of mexico and in northern colorado. I've been featured on the Garage Gardeners Podcast. I've bred my own purple indian corn that thrives under early spring snow where other corn dies. I'm pursuing an undergraduate degree in soil and crop sciences from Colorado State University.
Are you seeking volunteer growers or other types of volunteers?
Yes, seeking volunteer growers
How many volunteers do you need?
What will you ask volunteers to do?
Keep track of the best traits separately, but open pollinated crosses are expected and even encouraged. Use a brix meter to access sugar content if possible and record results. Save seed and share back and forth. Select for certain traits and qualities. No isolation distances needed, no hand pollination needed unless desired. Solitary bees do all the pollination work! Easy-Peasy!
Other requirements of volunteers?
Locations such as Northern Colorado, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, the greater southwest region, Canada, Northern Climates, or similar areas are preferred. But collaborators in Germany and even Australia are already present and involved. Novices are fine.
Is this a multi-year project?
Can volunteers expect to be able to keep some germplasm (seeds, bulbs, cuttings, spores, etc) at the close of the project?
Yes, of course
Anything else?
Visit the Alan Bishop Homegrown Goodness forum or the (OSSI) Open Source Seed Forum for more information!

Or my blog:
Researcher Location

United States

Project Updates

Progress 2022?

project update by
Sunday, March 6, 2022 - 05:23

Hi all,

I visited my closest collaborator. Jeff, on this project in the nearby city of Longmont Colorado. He had some citron melon hybrids that were left so we cut them open and did taste tests and attempted to text brix levels. We found 3 or 4 had bright yellow skins that to me looked really interesting, but sadly inside they were white fleshed, medium-firm and bland to no flavor or sweetness at all. Some others were very firm white flesh with bright red seeds and looked the most primitive like pure citron melons. We made a decision to discard the most primitive right away and put them in the compost bin.

(sorry I forgot to take any photos)

We found two that had pink flesh and fairly soft flesh and had some sweetness (about 4%), but one had quite a bitter after taste which was unpleasant and slightly worrying. However the other one was much better and although there seemed to be a hint of bitterness it was not enough to worry either of us and decided that for him we were going to only plant seeds from that melon in a semi-isolated drip irrigation area this summer.

I'm pretty low on my original landrace domestic watermelon seeds, so I gave the rest to Jeff to experiment with and grow out. If I have shared domestic landrace watermelon seed with any of you I would appreciate you grow it out and if possible send some seeds back.

Otherwise I recommend you all get a Brix Refractometer on Amazon. They are cheap and are easy to use. Domestic watermelon can measure up to 14% sugar while pure citron melons seem to measure about 2% (maybe more if you let them sit longer to ripen over several months?). I also recommend you each start selecting against any that are perhaps too firm and bland (especially if they have red seeds). Select for anything that grows really well for you or is very interesting to you. Don't be too discouraged if you find any that seem bitter, you may decide to select against any that may be bitter or decide to push through and see what shakes out in future generations. It's all a balance of not selecting to heavy early on and not selecting at all. We do want to push this in the direction of being edible and tasty while keeping some of the other interesting or useful traits from the citron melon ancestry.

A sub project of this for both the citron melon hybrids and the domestic watermelons is to develop a new or better "winter watermelon". There are a few domestic varieties that are already claimed to be winter storage melons, but they are hard to find and I don't know how well they actually store or taste. Some are touted as being ripe enough to eat when harvested in the fall, but increase in sweetness to their peak on New Years day. That does sound like something very useful.

Please respond each of you how you are progressing with the project. It is hard to keep track of everyone, where they are located, and how long they have been working on this project with me. You can email me directly at keen101 [at] gmail (dot) com. However I would prefer your responses be public so everyone can see each other. Collaborative plant breeding can work best when we are all sharing our success and failures as well as seeds.

-Andrew Barney
Loveland, Colorado, USA

Winter "Christmas" Watermelon 2020

project update by
Saturday, December 26, 2020 - 06:35

Just posted the same update on the OSSI forum.

[quote ="Andrey_BY;677977"][img]…]
Kholodok has a typical oval shape for mid late Russian watermelons and you can keep it till New Year party (3-5 months). Usual weight is 7-30 kg, no overripe and the taste is improving after 1 month of storage.

I decided to try finally opening my "Christmas Watermelon" for this year. It was soft but only had a brix of 4% (an improvement over 2%). I actually think it was under-ripe, so maybe i should aim for breeding a New Years watermelon instead of a christmas watermelon? Except it was fairly soft, so it probably was not overripe. Still, it is a fun project. ;D The "go" gene for yellow/gold rind ripening would come in VERY handy for this project.

Does someone want to try crossing these seeds with an improved gold-skin watermelon?

If anyone is interested in this sub-project for winter storage watermelons, I would be willing to share some of the limited seed with anyone who would like to try crossing it with the Russian Kholodok watermelon variety which is already reported as a winter watermelon variety.

New Years Evaluation

project update by
Sunday, January 19, 2020 - 03:39

Just updated OSSI thread.

I opened up the last citron like fruits I grew this summer around Christmas / New Years. I think if trying to breed for winter storage melons this is the best way to breed / evaluate them for storage traits.

All three were white fleshed I believe. Two had relatively high amounts of hard flesh with pectin, though not as much as a pure citron melon. The one with the smallest seeds (domestic watermelon small seed size) was fairly soft. It also measured the highest amount of brix sugar content at 2%. The others measured less. One of them had an unusual seed coat color / pattern. Redish-pink seeds with the black mottled covering on top.

Update Fall 2019

project update by
Saturday, October 5, 2019 - 05:52

Here's some photos. Called it the end of the season and harvested.

Fall 2019 update

project update by
Thursday, September 26, 2019 - 02:54

I posted this update on the OSSI forum.

So I haven't updated this thread much this year because my own crop did not do the best. But that does not mean this project is dead.

I tried to select and plant the seeds this year only from the ones with traits that seemed desirable (especially for eating). I think I planted about 10-12 "strains". I'll try to come back and edit this post with the names if i haven't already posted.

But anyway, yeah, so my plans mostly failed as most of them failed to thrive at all. My corn crop did fantastic which was planted as an afterthought rather than the main project ironically. But as it turns out the strongest "strain" continued to grow and set fruit regardless of the poor conditions. A testament to good genetics I would think. I still have plenty of backup seed from the large population from last year, so even if I had a complete crop failure I would have been fine. A good reason to only plant 50% of your seed!

But I've heard this project in Germany and Australia? Might be doing well this season. So in other ways by sharing my seed far and wide ive hedged my bets. Hopefully they will post pictures and updates soon too. More members are joining the project on the Experimental Farm Network.


Seeds request

project update by
Saturday, July 6, 2019 - 03:56

The email feature on this website is still broken. If you need seeds contact me on opensourceplant breeding forum under "biolumo" or email me at biolumo [at] gmail (dot) com and send your address.

Test update

project update by
Saturday, June 22, 2019 - 02:14

This is a test update. Seeing if things work now.

If anyone needs seeds for next year (or this year, though probably too late unless in Australia) then please let me know.

Colorado, USA

Good germination rate

project update by
Friday, June 21, 2019 - 06:15

I noticed a good germination quote in open ground. Seedlings seem to be strong and healthy so far.
Germination rate is far better than on seeds from Joseph Lofthouse. A volunteer strain from Canada is in between.
Lets hope it is a sign and some are gonna make fruits!