Who would have ever thought that an eight letter word
could mean so many things, and so much? When you
mention ‘research’ it congers up so many thoughts and
ideas in our heads.
In the case of the National Watermelon Association, our
research platform began to really take shape in 2006,
when we began to accept proposals from the research
community for careful consideration. In turn, our group
selected key projects that were (are) awarded annual
grants that are utilized to work specifically on key disease pressures that can make a difference for our farmer
members today, and tomorrow.
We have a growing library of results from past projects
on the National Watermelon Association website that
is available to our members (exclusively). Making this
type of information ‘exclusive’ to only our members is a
huge benefit of being a member of the Association. So
please, take advantage of that leg up on the competition.
Our ultimate goal with each and every research grant
(project) is to seek solutions for the numerous diseases
and insect pressures that inflict harm on the watermelon
crop. Most times the project takes a long time, yet
those periodic times we can hit a homerun and gain that
knowledge on a quicker pace. Staying focused on our
mission is the key. Miracles sometimes do occur.
During the 2016 domestic growing season, the National
Watermelon Association awarded six ( 6) grants to the
research community focused on key issues that need to
be addressed. Each of the projects addresses a disease
pressure that our research committee identified as a top
priority to consider for the coming year.
This year, the projects were awarded to four research
farms and labs in the university and government sectors.
We have worked with numerous university farms and
labs across the USA in past years, and anticipate that we
will again in future years. Here is our 2016 lineup of
research grant projects:
The role of soil fertility on the severity of Fusarium wilt
of watermelon - University of Georgia
Utilizing the Desert Watermelon Citrullus colocynthis
to enhance resistance to whiteflies in watermelon - U.S.
Vegetable Lab - Charleston and N.C. State University
Bacterial fruit Blotch:
Screening for Resistance to Bacterial Fruit Blotch in PI
Accessions and Heirloom Varieties of Watermelon -
N.C. State University
Phytophthora and Fusarium:
Will Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation (ASD) help manage
Phytophthora Oospores and Fusarium Wilt in infested
Fields? - U.S. Vegetable Lab - Charleston
Developing a core collection of watermelon lines resis-
tant to potyviruses - U.S. Vegetable Lab - Charleston
The final results are expected in late 2016, and will
be posted on the National Watermelon Association
for our members’ review and use.
Since 2006 the National Watermelon Association has
been funded critical research projects to investigate
a variety of disease and insect pressures that have
burdened our farmer members.
The list is lengthy, as the pressures are also. In addition to the growing list are some new opportunities
that we have investigated, such as ethanol conversion, bee research, irrigation and grafting to mention
a few. The project reports included in each research
area are guides and valuable references specifically
for our Association members. The list includes:
• Bacterial Fruit Blotch
• Bee Research
• Downy Mildew
• Ethanol Conversion
• Fusarium Wilt
• Gummy Stem Blight
• Hollow heart
• IPM Strategy
• Root-Knot Nematodes
• Vine Decline
Our ultimate goal with each and every grant award
is to learn as much as we can about the pressure,
discover how it develops and spreads, and ultimately
create a mitigating solution for that disease or insect
pressure. Our pursuit of solutions is what we stand
for, what we intend to pursue, and what we wish to
ultimately achieve. We will continue to do our best
to achieve those results for our farmer members.
The National Watermelon Promotion Board has periodically funded key research with AG research universities and the USDA-ARS to study health, nutrition,
phyto-nutrients and food safety aspects of watermelon.
The results and data finds of their funded research provide huge advantages to the watermelon industry.
The National Watermelon Association is able to post
these findings and make the results available to our
members. The research can potentially make a differ-
ence on your farm or in your operation, as well as have
a positive impact on food safety. We are hopeful that
you will visit our website to learn about the scientific
advances that may be of benefit to you. Two studies
• Rind Pathogen Study 2008
• Listeria Survival Study 2012
We look forward to making additional posts in the
future for the NWPB.
Non-GMO Seed Crops
With the advent of genetically-modified foods (and
seed) on the market, consumer groups have created a
bit of a stir with consumers that may be fearful of GMO
products. Although many in the produce industry know
that GMO products are here to stay and are already
spread throughout our food system, the concerns of
consumers have in some cases created a need by some
retailers to shy away from GMO products.
And, the government is also involved. The State of
Vermont has passed a GMO labeling law, with up to 30
other states considering similar legislation. The Vermont
law (and with other states anticipated to come on line
soon), has begun what we think may become a series of
requests from retailers to assure them that your watermelons are produced from NON-GMO seed.
In order to help you with those requests, we contacted
each seed company and asked them to verify (in writing) that their watermelon seed is in fact not genetically
modified. You will find the letters posted on our website
within the Public Affairs page. Please save or print the
letters for your use, as you may need them.
Each season the United States Department of Agriculture’s Marketing Service is called upon to conduct an
inspection of produce in our country’s fresh terminal
A recent webinar provided detail and shed light on the
particulars of produce inspections. The two-part presentation and a question & answer form are posted on
the National Watermelon Association website for your
In cooperation with a few universities and other entities,
we are pleased to be able to provide some training aids
that may be of interest to your business (farm or packing
As we all know, training our employees is vital to completing the multitude of tasks that we face on a daily
basis. We hope that this assembly of training aids (with
more to come) will support your efforts.
• Worker Protection Standard for AG Pesticides
• Watermelon Spray Guide
• Reduce Compaction and Tire Slippage in the Field
• Pesticide Safety videos