Growth Reductions by Exogenous Abscisic Acid Limit the Benefit of Height Control in Diploid and Triploid Watermelon Transplants Academic Article uri icon


  • Height control is important to produce compact vegetable transplants that are suitable for shipping and transplanting. Although abscisic acid (ABA) inhibits stem elongation, it can also induce other growth modifications. To optimize its application timing for effective height control, we examined age-dependent sensitivity of various growth variables to ABA in diploid Summer Flavor 800 and triploid Summer Sweet 5244 watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum & Nakai]. Seedlings were sprayed once with 1.9 mm ABA at 25, 18, or 11 days before transplanting (DBT) or twice with 0.95 mm ABA at 25 and 18 DBT. The application rate was 0.55 mg ABA per plant with a spray volume of 0.61 Lm2 (1.1 mL/plant). Only the single-spray treatment at 25 DBT (cotyledon stage) suppressed plant height by inhibiting petiole elongation. This effect was similar in both cultivars with 13% to 14% reductions at the transplanting stage compared with the untreated control. Undesirable growth modifications were also induced by ABA. In both cultivars, all ABA treatments caused 16% to 23% shoot biomass reductions mainly by inhibiting leaf expansion. Additionally, ABA treatments reduced stem diameter and root biomass in Summer Flavor 800. The double-spray treatment had similar growth-modulating effects as the single-spray treatments, except that it induced cotyledon abscission in Summer Flavor 800. These results suggest that although ABA applied at the cotyledon stage can reduce watermelon transplant height, the benefit is limited because of overall growth reductions, which can occur regardless of application timing. On the other hand, in triploid Summer Sweet 5244, moderate shoot growth delay by ABA may be of value as a growth-holding strategy when transplanting is delayed because of inclement weather at the time of field establishment. Importantly, field evaluations demonstrated that the growth modulation by ABA is only transient with no negative impact on marketable yield and fruit quality.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Agehara, S., & Leskovar, D. I.

citation count

  • 8

complete list of authors

  • Agehara, Shinsuke||Leskovar, Daniel I

publication date

  • April 2014