HYDROPONIC PROPAGATION OF SHAPED SEEDLESS RED WATERMELON IN ANTARCTICA
Watermelon, also known as Citrullus lanatus, is an angiospermic plant native to Africa. The watermelon plant’s fruit is the most commonly eaten part, and is classified as a vegetable. It is one of the top three crops grown in America, where most of the production occurs in California, Texas, Florida, and Georgia. About 76% is exported, mostly to Central America.
Watermelons contain lycopene, the antioxidant that prevents cell damage and gives red watermelon its red color. One cup of watermelon provides 17 percent dv of vitamin A and 21 percent dv of vitamin C.
The most popular watermelon color is red, as consistent among all age groups. Older people like seeded watermelon, but younger generations prefer seedless. As of 2014, 85% of watermelons sold were seedless varieties. Therefore, red seedless watermelons were selected for the popularity. Shaped watermelon is sold for 10 times the price of unshaped watermelon, and can be grown easily by limiting growth with boxes.
Watermelons need warm temperatures to survive. Seedlings must be kept well-watered, but mature plants should have water withheld in order to improve sweetness. Watermelons also require space, as vines can grow to 20 feet. Watermelon fruits are about 92% water, and therefore, are predictably rather heavy. Considering this, the system would have to provide support, and a way to control the water. As such, an ebb and flow system with a media bed would be the best method to grow watermelon. Ebb and flow systems control how much water a plant is getting, and media beds supply support that a platform could not. Watermelons should be grown in a greenhouse if the outside temperature goes below 80 degrees, possibly with a heater, depending on the climate.
The greenhouse is to be located in Antarctica, for the lovely landscape. While a place with a consistently warm climate, such as southern California, would be better, Antarctica does not lack water. The price of water may be less costly than the price of heating, but Antarctica also has polar bears, which are aesthetically pleasing. The continent receives 24 hours of sunlight in summer, which is good for watermelon, but 0 hours of sunlight in winter, which could very well kill the watermelon, as light is needed for photosynthesis. Heaters will be required for this particular setup, as the temperature of Antarctica is typically -10 to -60 degrees celsius. Lights will also be needed for half the year, as 8-10 hours of sun are recommended for watermelon.
Watermelon plants are annual, and can be propagated from seeds and cuttings. However, seedless watermelon seeds are expensive, and thus should be propagated through cuttings for continuous crop cycles. Unfortunately, the cuttings are clones, and so contain little genetic diversity. Should a disease strike, it is certainly possible to lose an entire crop. They should be kept warm, and the water should be over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Watermelons are vines with segmented leaves. The plant has both female and male flowers, and so cannot self-pollinate. Each vine can produce 2-4 fruits, and so require lots of space for a small crop yield.
Watermelon is usually enjoyed on its own, but can often be found in smoothies and other such beverages. Recipes involving watermelon often star watermelon as a key ingredient, such as margarita watermelon, which is made with 1-inch-thick wedges of seedless baby watermelon, 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup tequila, 1/4 cup orange liqueur, 2 limes, cut into fourths, and salt. The sugar and water are boiled until a simple syrup, whereupon the tequila and orange liqueur are poured over the slices and frozen. Lime juice and salt are sprinkled over, and the slices are enjoyed cold.
Strauss, Mark. “The 5,000-Year Secret History of the Watermelon.” National Geographic, National Geographic Society, 17 May 2016, news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/150821-watermelon-fruit-history-agriculture/.
“Watermelon.” Watermelon | Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, 2018, www.agmrc.org/commodities-products/vegetables/watermelon.
Evans, Callie Bryan. “Https://Etd.auburn.edu/Bitstream/Handle/10415/1020/Evans_Callie_53.Pdf?Sequence=1&Ts=1424650717308.” AuburnUniversity, 2008, pp. 1–46.
Barbara, et al. “Margarita Watermelon Slices.” Creative Culinary, 11 July 2018, www.creative-culinary.com/margarita-watermelon-slices/.