The new Syngenta seedless watermelon variety and its Full Count Deuces companion transplant program have taken the East Coast by storm this spring after successful Western field trials last year.
Through the Full Count Deuces Program, Syngenta offers trays pre-set with a 3:1 seedless to pollinizer plant ratio, which reduces labor needs and prevents confusion during transplanting.
“We’re introducing the Deuces trays as the next evolution of the Full Count Transplant Program this year. Two years ago we did field trials and launched Full Count Deuces in the West during 2012. This year, we brought it out in the Eastern United States and Texas. I think within three to five years this program is going to change the way watermelons are planted,” said Full Count Program Field Specialist Craig Mathis. “Some of the big advantages from a grower standpoint are increased speed during transplanting and reduced labor costs. Another advantage, though, is it keeps people from getting the pollinator and seedless trays confused and prevents them from planting all pollinizers or all seedless transplants. This is a nice insurance program just for that and also requires less management in the field, which could reduce labor costs.”
The Deuces program has been well received in the early going. “It’s really taken off and we’re sending a lot out in the fields,” Mr. Mathis said. “There are very few people who aren’t interested – almost everyone is saying, ‘I at least want to try it.’”
Meanwhile, Syngenta’s new seedless Exclamation is a dark-skinned, later season watermelon that pairs well with the company’s already established favorites like Admiration, Fascination and Melody.
Watermelon Portfolio Manager Dean Liere said the new variety builds on Syngenta’s breeding program, which is making quantum leaps following the mapping of the watermelon genome last year.
“Seedless is not that old, 40-50 years depending who you talk to, and a lot of the first varieties were very similar due to similar genetic backgrounds. We’ve gone beyond that and are starting to see new width and breadth in the category,” Mr. Liere said. “Fascination is different from Exclamation and both are different from our Tri-X 313 variety. Exclamation is a great quality watermelon with good disease resistance and yield.”
“We’ve got excellent momentum,” Mr. Mathis added. “Exclamation has really taken off in the eastern United States and really met a nice need in our portfolio. It’s a little bit later, little bit larger watermelon and the demand has just been phenomenal.”
Exclamation yields more 36 count watermelons, is firmer-fleshed, later maturing and “has an extremely strong vine in the field which helps with field holding capabilities, ability to withstand stress during adverse conditions and also helps maintain really good fruit quality,” Mr. Mathis said. “It’s a great companion variety; Fascination and Exclamation make a really great pairing in the field.”
There is more to come from the Syngenta research facilities, including another next-generation watermelon that has been successfully field-tested and will likely be named this summer before rollout next season.
“Our research pipeline has tremendous potential. We have the unique ability to choose and breed in new qualities and traits needed from a grower’s perspective,” Mr. Mathis said.