Mateera, watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) germplasm utilization for improving fruit quality and marketable harvest under hot arid climate of India: approaches and out-put
Cucurbits, a big group of vegetable cultivated extensively in India. It consist wide-range of crops used in culinary, salad, dessert, pickling and processing. Indigenous cucurbits both fresh and dehydrated form ensuring nutritious food to inhabitants of tribal and desert areas. Kachri, kaakdia, mateera, tinda and tumba is grown under rainfed situations and its cultivation is admired with the traditional farming in north-western parts of Rajasthan. Mateera is under-utilized, drought tolerant and native form of watermelon. Its nutrition rich tender and ripen fruits and seed-kernel liked by desert dwellers and sold at high premium. For developing drought and heat tolerant genotypes in mateera, ICAR-CIAH initiated first-time intensive research and wide range of Citrullus germplasm collected, conserved and utilized in crop improvement work from 1994 to 2012. In past, absence of standard varieties in drought tolerant mateera, the arid zone farmers obliged to use heterozygous seed collected from fruits (based on taste) of own fields. This obviously results poor and no-insured quality. On evaluation of the Citrullus germplasm (254 entries) at Bikaner, watermelon genotypes failed to express their potentialities under high temperature and rainfed conditions. Therefore, use of indigenous and generated variability, and promotion of varieties from native germplasm is found to be beneficial. Mateera line AHW-18, AHW-19, AHW-65, AHW-108, AHW-140, AHW-RSS-1 and AHW-BSM-1 are promising for use in breeding or trait-specific selections. The developed mateera varieties i.e. AHW-19 and Thar Manak are early in harvesting, producing better quality fruits and multiple-use, and recommended for cultivation under resource constraints hot arid environment.
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