Seed production, viability and germination potential of Citrullus lanatus in the King Nehale Conservancy

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The melon under investigation, Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsumura and Nakai is a wild and often cultivated species originating in southern Africa. Melon seeds are utilised as oil crops for household consumption and are widely used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. There is a lack of a suitable harvesting system for C. lanatus, exposing it to over-exploitation. Low recruitment is experienced in the field and active germination trials by villagers in north-central Namibia have been ineffective. It is for this reason that investigations leading to the domestication, cultivation and management of wild-harvested plants were required. Ethnobotanical studies revealed that villagers were keen to intercrop C. lanatus with local traditional crops to increase the seed yield required for commercial trade. Local people were prepared to provide an effective management system for the protection of the melon as provided to other wild foods such as Marula. The study demonstrated that there was no significant germination difference (p< 0.05) between seeds obtained from fully matured fruits, and in young, immature fruits. In field and laboratory experiments, there were various germination successes with the pre-chilling of seeds, and the exposure of the seeds to H2SO4 and Essential Microorganisms. These treatments obtained more than 50 % arbitrary values needed for reliable and successful germination. Germinability was negatively effected in abrased seeds and seeds obtained from herbivore manure, with less that 50 % germination arbitrary values and high germination rates.

University of Namibia and Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin
Master's Thesis
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