Special Issue "Managing the Product Quality of Vegetable Crops under Abiotic Stress"

A special issue of Horticulturae (ISSN 2311-7524). This special issue belongs to the section "Vegetable Production Systems".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021) | Viewed by 15466

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Special Issue Editor

Dr. Lilian Schmidt
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Department of Vegetable Crops, Geisenheim University, Von-Lade-Strasse 1, 65366 Geisenheim, Germany
2. Department of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, Geisenheim University, Von-Lade-Strasse 1, 65366 Geisenheim, Germany
Interests: vegetable quality; abiotic stress; photosynthesis; herbivory; climate change; carotenoids; anthocyanins

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Vegetables are an important part of the human diet due to their nutrient density and, at the same time, low calorie content. Producers of vegetable crops mainly aim at achieving high yields with good external quality. However, there is an increasing demand of consumers for vegetables that provide good sensory properties and are rich in secondary compounds (like polyphenols or carotenoids) that can be valuable for human health.

Sub- or supraoptimal abiotic conditions, such as high temperatures, drought stress, excess light, or nutrient deficiency, may alter the composition of vegetable crops and especially impact the concentrations of secondary compounds. At the same time, abiotic stress results in yield losses which is negative for the producers. Thus, they need to adapt their horticultural practices such as through the choice of variety, irrigation regime, light management, fruit thinning, or fertilizer application to improve the yield and quality of the vegetable product. In the future, altered climate conditions such as elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations, increased exposure to ozone, rising temperatures, or altered precipitation patterns may become additional challenges for producers of vegetable crops, especially those that cultivate in the open field. This raises the need for optimized horticultural practices in order to minimize abiotic stresses, e.g., by adapting the application of fertilizer according to the plant´s needs. Many studies have examined the effects of abiotic stress on the yield of crops, but only a few have investigated their impacts on the nutritional quality of their products.

This Special Issue of Horticulturae aims at compiling research that deals with the optimization of vegetable product quality under abiotic stress. We therefore encourage submission of research articles, reviews, short notes, and opinion articles that focus on yield and nutritional quality (sensory aspects, composition) of vegetable products under sub- or supraoptimal abiotic conditions.

Dr. Lilian Schmidt
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Horticulturae is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

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Keywords

  • abiotic stress
  • nutritional quality
  • vegetable crops
  • secondary compounds
  • horticultural practices

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Managing the Product Quality of Vegetable Crops under Abiotic Stress
Horticulturae 2022, 8(1), 25; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae8010025 - 26 Dec 2021
Viewed by 736
Abstract
Plants, as sessile organisms, are continuously exposed to varying environmental conditions and often face abiotic and biotic threats [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Managing the Product Quality of Vegetable Crops under Abiotic Stress)

Research

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Article
Novel S. pennellii × S. lycopersicum Hybrid Rootstocks for Tomato Production with Reduced Water and Nutrient Supply
Horticulturae 2021, 7(10), 355; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae7100355 - 02 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 509
Abstract
Drought stress and nutrient deficiency are limiting factors in vegetable production that will have a decisive role due to the challenges of climate change in the future. The negative effects of these stressors on yield can be mitigated by crop grafting. The increasing [...] Read more.
Drought stress and nutrient deficiency are limiting factors in vegetable production that will have a decisive role due to the challenges of climate change in the future. The negative effects of these stressors on yield can be mitigated by crop grafting. The increasing demands for resource-use efficiency in crop production, therefore, require the development and phenotyping of more resilient rootstocks, and the selection of appropriate scions. We tested the effect of combined drought stress and nutrient deficiency on yield and fruit quality of the two tomato cultivars ‘Lyterno’ and ‘Tastery’ in the greenhouse, grafted onto different rootstock genotypes. The use of four different rootstocks, including two novel S. pennellii × S. lycopersicum hybrids and the proven-effective use of ‘Beaufort’, as well as self-grafted plants, allowed conclusions to be drawn about the differential stress mitigation of the rootstocks used. The stress-induced yield reduction of the scion ‘Lyterno’ can be mitigated more significantly by the novel hybrid rootstocks than by the commercial rootstock ‘Beaufort’. At the same time, however, the individual fruit weight and the lycopene content of the fruits were significantly reduced when grafted onto the hybrid rootstocks. In contrast, the cultivar ‘Tastery’ showed a weak stress response, so that a generally positive influence of the rootstocks independently of the scions could not be demonstrated. We conclude that, particularly for more sensitive cultivars, the selection of more resilient rootstocks offers the potential for sustainable and resource-efficient production not competing with the overall quality of tomatoes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Managing the Product Quality of Vegetable Crops under Abiotic Stress)
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Article
Unraveling the Modulation of Controlled Salinity Stress on Morphometric Traits, Mineral Profile, and Bioactive Metabolome Equilibrium in Hydroponic Basil
Horticulturae 2021, 7(9), 273; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae7090273 - 01 Sep 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 692
Abstract
Salinity is a major concern in several ecosystems and has a significant impact on global agriculture. To increase the sustainability of horticultural food systems, better management and usage of saline water and soils need to be supported by knowledge of the crop-specific responses [...] Read more.
Salinity is a major concern in several ecosystems and has a significant impact on global agriculture. To increase the sustainability of horticultural food systems, better management and usage of saline water and soils need to be supported by knowledge of the crop-specific responses to tolerable levels of salinity. The aim of this work was to study the effects of mild salinity on morphological growth and development, leaf color, mineral composition, antioxidant activities, and phenolic profile of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.). Plants grew in hydroponics and were exposed to three nutrient solutions (NSs) differing in the NaCl concentration (either 0, 20, or 40 mM). Inhibitory effects on leaf area, fresh yield, and shoot biomass were evident starting from the lowest NaCl concentration, and they became more severe and wide-ranging at 40 mM, also affecting height and root-to-shoot ratio. Salinity increased the nutritional quality in terms of antioxidant activity and polyphenols in leaves, with a reduction in macroelements at 40 mM NaCl. Moreover, the two mild NaCl concentrations specifically modified the concentration of various phenolic acids in leaves. Overall, the use of a slightly saline (20 mM) NS could be tolerated by basil in hydroponics, strongly ameliorating the nutritional profile in the face of relative yield loss. Considering the significantly higher accumulation of bioactive compounds, our work implies that the use of low-salinity water can sustainably increase the nutritional value and the health-promoting features of basil leaves. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Managing the Product Quality of Vegetable Crops under Abiotic Stress)
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Article
For a Better Understanding of the Effect of N Form on Growth and Chemical Composition of C3 Vascular Plants under Elevated CO2—A Case Study with the Leafy Vegetable Eruca sativa
Horticulturae 2021, 7(8), 251; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae7080251 - 17 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1260
Abstract
Plant responses to elevated atmospheric CO2 (eCO2) are well studied, but the interactions of the carbon and nitrogen metabolism in the process are still not fully revealed. This is especially true for the role of nitrogen forms and their assimilation [...] Read more.
Plant responses to elevated atmospheric CO2 (eCO2) are well studied, but the interactions of the carbon and nitrogen metabolism in the process are still not fully revealed. This is especially true for the role of nitrogen forms and their assimilation by plants under eCO2. This study investigated the interacting metabolic processes of atmospheric CO2 levels and N form in the short-term crop arugula. The effects on physiological processes and their consequences for crop growth, yield and nutritional value were elucidated. Two varieties of arugula were grown in climate cabinets under 400 or 800 ppm CO2, respectively. The plants were fertilized with either pure nitrate or ammonium-dominated-N. Photosynthetic CO2 assimilation increased in response to eCO2 regardless of the N form. This did not affect the assimilation of nitrate and consequently had no impact on the biomass of the plants. The extra photosynthates were not invested into the antioxidative compounds but were probably diverted towards the leaf structural compounds, thereby increasing dry mass and “diluting” several mineral elements. The fertilization of arugula with ammonium-dominated N had little benefits in terms of crop yield and nutritional quality. It is therefore not recommended to use ammonium-dominated N for arugula production under future elevated CO2 levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Managing the Product Quality of Vegetable Crops under Abiotic Stress)
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Article
Combined Effect of Salinity and LED Lights on the Yield and Quality of Purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) Microgreens
Horticulturae 2021, 7(7), 180; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae7070180 - 03 Jul 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1944
Abstract
The present work aims to explore the potential to improve quality of purslane microgreens by combining water salinity and LED lighting during their cultivation. Purslane plants were grown in a growth chamber with light insulated compartments, under different lighting sources on a 16 [...] Read more.
The present work aims to explore the potential to improve quality of purslane microgreens by combining water salinity and LED lighting during their cultivation. Purslane plants were grown in a growth chamber with light insulated compartments, under different lighting sources on a 16 h d−1 photoperiod—fluorescent lamps (FL) and two LED treatments, including a red and blue (RB)) spectrum and a red, blue and far red (RB+IR) LED lights spectrum—while providing all of them a light intensity of 150 µmol m−2 s−1. Plants were exposed to two salinity treatments, by adding 0 or 80 mM NaCl. Biomass, cation and anions, total phenolics (TPC) and flavonoids content (TFC), total antioxidant capacity (TAC), total chlorophylls (Chl) and carotenoids content (Car) and fatty acids were determined. The results showed that yield was increased by 21% both in RB and RB+FR lights compared to FL and in salinity compared to non-salinity conditions. The nitrate content was reduced by 81% and 91% when microgreens were grown under RB and RB+FR, respectively, as compared to FL light, and by 9.5% under saline conditions as compared with non-salinity conditions. The lowest oxalate contents were obtained with the combinations of RB or RB+FR lighting and salinity. The content of Cl and Na in the leaves were also reduced when microgreens were grown under RB and RB+FR lights under saline conditions. Microgreens grown under RB light reached the highest TPC, while salinity reduced TFC, Chl and Car. Finally, the fatty acid content was not affected by light or salinity, but these factors slightly influenced their composition. It is concluded that the use of RB and RB+FR lights in saline conditions is of potential use in purslane microgreens production, since it improves the yield and quality of the product, reducing the content of anti-nutritional compounds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Managing the Product Quality of Vegetable Crops under Abiotic Stress)
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Article
Opportunities of Reduced Nitrogen Supply for Productivity, Taste, Valuable Compounds and Storage Life of Cocktail Tomato
Horticulturae 2021, 7(3), 48; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae7030048 - 11 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 779
Abstract
Vegetable production requires high nutrient input for ensuring high quality and high yield. As this is ecologically disadvantageous, it is necessary to determine if nitrogen (N) fertilization can be reduced without negative effects on productivity. For quality reasons, the effects of reduced N [...] Read more.
Vegetable production requires high nutrient input for ensuring high quality and high yield. As this is ecologically disadvantageous, it is necessary to determine if nitrogen (N) fertilization can be reduced without negative effects on productivity. For quality reasons, the effects of reduced N supply on taste, valuable compounds and storage life must be elucidated in parallel. This study examines whether reducing the N supply of cocktail tomatoes by 50% to recommendations affects the yield and quality of tomato fruits. Three varieties with different skin colors, yellow-orange (‘Apresa’), red (‘Delioso’) and brown (‘Bombonera’), were grown in soil in a greenhouse and harvested at the red-ripen stage. Quality parameters were assessed at harvest and after eight-day storage. Total yield decreased exclusively with ‘Bombonera’ due to reduced fruit weight. Firmness of the fruit pulp, concentrations of minerals, soluble solid contents, total acidity, total phenolics and liposoluble pigments of fruits were not influenced. However, storage affected chemical compositions positively, as shown by increased antioxidants. Descriptive sensory analyses revealed no impact of reduced N supply. From the perspective of the yield, quality and shelf life of fruits, reducing the N supply by 50% offers opportunities for the three cocktail tomato varieties in soil cultivation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Managing the Product Quality of Vegetable Crops under Abiotic Stress)
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Article
Reassessing the Role of Potassium in Tomato Grown with Water Shortages
Horticulturae 2021, 7(2), 20; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae7020020 - 29 Jan 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 828
Abstract
Potassium (K) is closely related to plant water uptake and use and affects key processes in assimilation and growth. The aim of this work was to find out to what extent K supply and enhanced compartmentation might improve water use and productivity when [...] Read more.
Potassium (K) is closely related to plant water uptake and use and affects key processes in assimilation and growth. The aim of this work was to find out to what extent K supply and enhanced compartmentation might improve water use and productivity when tomato plants suffered from periods of water stress. Yield, water traits, gas exchange, photosynthetic rate and biomass partition were determined. When plants suffered dehydration, increasing K supply was associated with reduction in stomatal conductance and increased water contents, but failed to protect photosynthetic rate. Potassium supplements increased shoot growth, fruit setting and yield under water stress. However, increasing the K supply could not counteract the great yield reduction under drought. A transgenic tomato line with enhanced K uptake into vacuoles and able to reach higher plant K contents, still showed poor yield performance under water stress and had lower K use efficiency than the control plants. With unlimited water supply (hydroponics), plants grown in low-K showed greater root hydraulic conductivity than at higher K availability and stomatal conductance was not associated with leaf K concentration. In conclusion, increasing K supply and tissue content improved some physiological features related to drought tolerance but did not overcome yield restrictions imposed by water stress. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Managing the Product Quality of Vegetable Crops under Abiotic Stress)
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Article
Effects of Drought on Yield and Nutraceutical Properties of Beans (Phaseolus spp.) Traditionally Cultivated in Veneto, Italy
Horticulturae 2021, 7(2), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae7020017 - 26 Jan 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1115
Abstract
Beans are often grown in regions with climates that are susceptible to drought during the cultivation period. Consequently, it is important to identify bean accessions tolerant to drought conditions and assess the effect of drought on seeds’ nutraceutical properties. This study evaluated the [...] Read more.
Beans are often grown in regions with climates that are susceptible to drought during the cultivation period. Consequently, it is important to identify bean accessions tolerant to drought conditions and assess the effect of drought on seeds’ nutraceutical properties. This study evaluated the effect of drought during different development stages (NES = never stressed; ALS = always stressed; SBF = stressed before flowering; SAF = stressed after flowering) on the yield and nutraceutical properties of six local bean varieties: Fasolo del Diavolo, Gialet, Posenati, Secle, D’oro, and Maron. Analysis of variance indicated that Gialet was not significantly affected by drought treatments, and Posenati under SBF and NES treatments had greater yields than under ALS and SAF treatments, whereas Secle under SBF produced 80% more seeds than under NES. Total phenols, antioxidant capacity, and calcium content were significantly different among the local varieties. Yield was significantly and positively correlated with seed calcium content and significantly and negatively correlated with protein, total phenols, and antioxidant capacity. The interaction between local varieties and treatment significantly affected seeds’ Zn content. Gialet and Maron seeds’ Zn contents were about 60 mg kg−1, almost double the average of commercial varieties. In summary, this study paves the way to the identification of potential bean varieties resistant to drought. Further molecular studies will help support these findings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Managing the Product Quality of Vegetable Crops under Abiotic Stress)
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Article
Correlations among Quality Characteristics of Green Asparagus Affected by the Application Methods of Elevated CO₂ Combined with MA Packaging
Horticulturae 2020, 6(4), 103; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae6040103 - 14 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1060
Abstract
This research investigated the effects of continuous elevated CO₂ (20%, (v/v)) application or a 3 day CO₂ pretreatment followed by modified atmosphere (MA) or micro-perforated (MP) packaging on the postharvest quality of asparagus. The combination of CO₂ pretreatment with MA packaging [...] Read more.
This research investigated the effects of continuous elevated CO₂ (20%, (v/v)) application or a 3 day CO₂ pretreatment followed by modified atmosphere (MA) or micro-perforated (MP) packaging on the postharvest quality of asparagus. The combination of CO₂ pretreatment with MA packaging (Pre-MA) inhibited the yellowing of asparagus and fresh weight loss (FWL), whereas stem firmness slightly increased with all elevated CO₂ treatments. CO₂ pretreatments increased antioxidant activity in the stem, but not in the tip, in contrast to the continuous flow CO₂ (Flow-CO₂) treatment. The phenolic and flavonoid contents increased in the elevated CO₂ pretreatments and Flow-CO₂ treatment. The elevated CO₂ treatments, especially Flow-CO₂, inhibited the development of microorganisms, and the treated asparagus did not decay. Pre-MA and Flow-CO₂ treatments were more effective in maintaining the visual quality and retarding the off-odor of asparagus. Furthermore, significant correlations between sensory quality characteristics and physiological-biochemical attributes were recognized; three principal components were extracted and they explained 86.4% of asparagus characteristics. The results confirmed the importance of visual quality, off-odor, firmness, color parameters, SSC and total phenolic content. In conclusion, elevated CO₂ pretreatment followed by MA packaging (Pre-MA) was beneficial for extending asparagus cold storage shelf life, and Flow-CO₂ was the best treatment for inhibiting postharvest decay. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Managing the Product Quality of Vegetable Crops under Abiotic Stress)
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Article
Gibberellic Acid Induced Changes on Growth, Yield, Superoxide Dismutase, Catalase and Peroxidase in Fruits of Bitter Gourd (Momordica charantia L.)
Horticulturae 2020, 6(4), 72; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae6040072 - 29 Oct 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1165
Abstract
Bitter gourd is one of the important cucurbits and highly liked among both farmers and consumers due to its high net return and nutritional value. However, being monoecious, it exhibits substantial variation in flower bearing pattern. Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are known to [...] Read more.
Bitter gourd is one of the important cucurbits and highly liked among both farmers and consumers due to its high net return and nutritional value. However, being monoecious, it exhibits substantial variation in flower bearing pattern. Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are known to influence crop phenology while gibberellic acid (GA3) is one of the most prominent PGRs that influence cucurbits phenology. Therefore, a field trial was conducted at University of Agriculture Faisalabad to evaluate the impact of a commercial product of gibberellic acid (GA3) on growth, yield and quality attributes of two bitter gourd (Momordica charantiaL.) cultivars. We used five different concentrations (0.4 g, 0.6 g, 0.8 g, 1.0 g, and 1.2 g per litre) of commercial GA3 product (Gibberex, 10% Gibberellic acid). Results showed that a higher concentration of gibberex (1.0 and 1.20 g L−1 water) enhanced the petiole length, intermodal length, and yield of bitter gourd cultivars over control in Golu hybrid and Faisalabad Long. A significant decrease in the enzyme superoxidase dismutase, peroxidase, and catalase activities were observed with an increasing concentration of gibberex (1.0 and 1.20 gL−1 water) as compared to control. These results indicate that the exogenous application of gibberex at a higher concentration (1.2 g L−1) has a dual action in bitter gourd plant: i) it enhances the plant growth and yield, and ii) it also influenced the antioxidant enzyme activities in fruits. These findings may have a meaningful, practical use for farmers involved in agriculture and horticulture. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Managing the Product Quality of Vegetable Crops under Abiotic Stress)
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Article
Effect of Seaweed Extract on Productivity and Quality Attributes of Four Onion Cultivars
Horticulturae 2020, 6(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae6020028 - 08 May 2020
Cited by 29 | Viewed by 2768
Abstract
The excessive use of chemicals and inorganic fertilizers by farmers to increase crop yield is detrimental to the environment and human health. Application of biostimulants such as seaweed extract (SWE) in agriculture could be an effective and eco-friendly alternative to inorganic fertilizers. Biostimulants [...] Read more.
The excessive use of chemicals and inorganic fertilizers by farmers to increase crop yield is detrimental to the environment and human health. Application of biostimulants such as seaweed extract (SWE) in agriculture could be an effective and eco-friendly alternative to inorganic fertilizers. Biostimulants are natural organic degradable substances. Their application serves as a source of nutrition for crops, possibly improving growth and productivity when applied in combination with the fertilizers. The current study was conducted to evaluate the vegetative growth, reproductive behavior and quality attributes of four onion cultivars, ‘Lambada’, ‘Red Bone’, ‘Nasarpuri’, and ‘Phulkara’, in response to different concentrations of commercial SWE. Four levels of SWE extract were used, 0% (control), 0.5%, 1%, 2%, and 3%, which were applied as a foliar spray to each cultivar. The application of 0.5% SWE caused a significant increase in total soluble solids, mineral content (N, P, and K), bulb weight and yield. Application at 3% SWE increased ascorbic acid as compared to control. The cultivars responded in different ways regarding bulb dry weight and bulb and neck diameter. Among all cultivars, ‘Lambada’ showed the maximum bulb dry matter, ‘Phulkara’ showed enhanced neck diameter whereas ‘Red Bone’ showed maximum leaf length. It is concluded that 0.5% SWE increased the yield, nutrient contents, and total soluble solids (TSS) of the four onion cultivars whereas 3% SWE, the highest concentration, increased ascorbic acid in different onion cultivars. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Managing the Product Quality of Vegetable Crops under Abiotic Stress)
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Review

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Review
Impact of Grafting on Watermelon Fruit Maturity and Quality
Horticulturae 2020, 6(4), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae6040097 - 08 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1650
Abstract
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) grafting has emerged as a promising biological management approach aimed at increasing tolerance to abiotic stressors, such as unfavorable environmental conditions. These conditions include environments that are too cold, wet, or dry, have soil nutrient deficiency or toxicity [...] Read more.
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) grafting has emerged as a promising biological management approach aimed at increasing tolerance to abiotic stressors, such as unfavorable environmental conditions. These conditions include environments that are too cold, wet, or dry, have soil nutrient deficiency or toxicity and soil or irrigation water salinity. Studies to date indicate that fruit yield and quality may be positively or negatively affected depending on rootstock-scion combination and growing environment. Growers need information regarding the general effect of rootstocks, as well as specific scion-rootstock interactions on fruit maturity and quality so they can select combinations best suited for their environment. This review summarizes the literature on watermelon grafting with a focus on abiotic stress tolerance and fruit maturity and quality with specific reference to hollow heart and hard seed formation, flesh firmness, total soluble solids, and lycopene content. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Managing the Product Quality of Vegetable Crops under Abiotic Stress)
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