"Thanks to the most advanced techniques of varietal selection, alongside the traditional methods, we are increasingly asserting ourselves on the market with important contributions to horticultural genetics," said Vincenzo Cassibba, breeder and administrator of Progene Seed, an Italian seed company located in Vittoria (RG), Sicily.
Vincenzo Cassibba, breeder
Progene Seed operates in one of the most iconic areas of Mediterranean horticulture and focuses its R&D on hybrid varieties that adapt to warm and temperate climates. Precisely because of these requirements, Progene Seed's portfolio is very varied, and includes mini watermelons and watermelons, which is the focus of this article.
"We have worked with different types of watermelon, both in terms of size, from about 10 to 20 kg, and in regard to their various shapes, i.e., round-oval and elongated. We currently have three different varieties in our catalo, Anastasia F1 and Sofia F1, which are classified as elongated, and Marsalino F1, which is classified as midi round.
Anastasia F1, Sofia F1 and Marsalino F1 Anastasia F1 is an early variety, with a vigorous plant and an excellent leaf coverage that protects the fruit from direct sunlight. The variety is very balanced in growth and has a good fruit set, which allows uniform productions. It also has a good graft compatibility. The fruit has an elongated shape, with dark green streaks, very bright, an intense red flesh, and is very sweet and crisp. The average weight ranges between 15-18 kg. Anastasia F1 is particularly suitable for winter transplanting (January - March), for greenhouses and polytunnels. The main characteristics are its high resistance to pulp cracking, few seeds and thin skin.
Sofia F1 is a medium vigorous plant, with excellent leaf coverage. The homogeneous fruit set guarantees high yields of excellent quality. The shape is elongated and regular, the average weight of the fruit is 18-20 kg. The skin is bright green, while the flesh is sweet and crispy and of an intense and bright red color, the taste is excellent. Transplanting can be done from March onwards (therefore it is suitable for spring-summer transplanting both in polytunnels and in open fields). Sofia F1, equipped with a thin and very resistant skin, is well suited for post-harvest transportation.
Marsalino F1 is the newest watermelon created by Progene Seed. It is a round midi type, with an average vigorous plant, a good leaf coverage, an excellent fruit set and it is highly productive. The round fruit is light green with dark green streaks and the flesh is an intense red color, very compact, crispy and with a high sugar content. The average size is about 10 kg. It has an excellent long shelf-life. It adapts well to winter, spring and summer transplantations. It has few seeds and a high brix degree.
SC12000 F1 Rootstock "Nowadays farmers are increasingly in need of plants that are resistant to both biotic and abiotic agents. Speaking of watermelons, the ideal solution is the use of grafted plants. To meet these needs, Progene Seed has produced a resistant rootstock with wide adaptability to different soils. It is the rootstock SC12000 F1".
SC12000 F1 is a vigorous rootstock, suitable for exhausted soils. It promotes the development of excellent leaf coverage and has a good affinity to all watermelon types. The root system is well developed. The hypocotyl is well straight and erect, which facilitates the rooting. Moreover, the excellent uniformity of the plant guarantees an easier handling in the nursery. The main characteristic of this rootstock is the low transmission of squash aftertaste, which guarantees a final product that has the typical and peculiar taste of the variety.
"We would like to point out that grafting the rootstock with watermelons Sofia F1, Anastasia F1 and Marsalino F1 results in a greater resistance of the root system, higher productivity and excellent fruit quality in terms of flavor," concluded Cassibba. SC12000 F1 can also be combined with other species, including melon and cucumber (see photo)."