Watermelons (Citrullus lunatus) are in the family Cucurbitaceae and are divided into types based on their weight: personal (<6 lbs), icebox (6–15 lbs), and picnic (>15 lbs). Watermelon arrived in the Americas in the early 1600s with traders and was first cultivated in Massachusetts in 1629. Until 1980s, watermelons were considered a seasonal fruit, but today imports combined with local production ensure a year-round supply. Icebox watermelons are gaining in popularity as they are ideal for small families and fit easily into a refrigerator.
Our program at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC focuses on evaluating:
- The diversity of watermelon flesh colors.
- Early maturing varieties that are suitable for production in the relatively cool climate of Northwest Washington.
- Use of grafting to prevent soil-borne diseases that are common in our cool climate.