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a genus of annual and perennial plants of the Cucurbitaceae (Gourd) family. The root is strongly branched and goes down to depths of 1 m and more. The stalk grows along the ground and has long-petioled, pinnatisect leaves; there are also varieties with undivided leaves. The flowers can be dioecious and hermaphroditic, monoecious and dioecious, solitary, or more rarely in clusters. The fruit—the pepo—is round, oval, flattened, or cylindrical in shape. The coloring of the rind varies from white to dark green, with patterns in the form of nets, stripes, and spots. The pulp is pink, red, crimson, and more rarely, white or yellow. Three species are known: the colocynth (C. colocynthis), which grows wild in the deserts of Africa, Iran, Middle Asia, Afghanistan, and Australia, and the cultivated species—the watermelon (C. vulgaris) and the citron melon (C. colocynthoides). The ci-trullus is a heat-loving crop and needs less fertile soil than other melon crops.
The Citrullus originated in South Africa. Its cultivation is widespread in the USA, Japan, China, India, and the countries of southeastern Europe. In the USSR it is grown in the Lower Volga region, the Northern Caucasus, the southern Ukraine, Moldavia, Transcaucasia, Kazakhstan, the republics of Middle Asia, the Central Chernozem Zone, and certain other regions. The fruits of the watermelon weigh between 0.6 and 16 kg and contain vitamins, up to 11 percent sugar, and other substances. They are eaten fresh, pickled (the small varieties), used for cooking honey (nedrak), making candied fruit, and so on. The seeds contain a valuable, tasty oil. The fruits of the citron melon weigh between 10 and 15 kg, contain 2–3 percent sugar, and are eaten by all animal species fresh and in silage form. Average yields are 150–200 quintals per hectare for watermelons and 250–300 for citron melons. Common fast-maturing varieties of watermelon (65–75 days) in the USSR include Stoks 647–649, Pobeditel’ 395, and Liubimets Khutora Piatigorska. Medium- and late-maturing varieties (85–140 days) are the Melitopol’ 142 and 143, the Bykovskii 22, and others. Citron melon varieties include the Diskhim and Brodskii 37–42.
A field to be planted with Citrullus is plowed 25–27 cm deep in the fall; in the early spring it is harrowed and planted twice. During the fall plowing, phosphorus and potash fertilizers are applied and in the spring during cultivation, nitrogen or organic (humus or rotted manure). Seeds (2–4 kg per hectare) are planted 6–8 cm deep. Under arid conditions, the citron and long-vined varieties of the watermelon should be planted in areas of 4–6 sq m per plant and short-vined varieties, in areas of 3–4 sq m per plant. On more fertile and moister soils, less area is required. Plantings are thinned, the soil is loosened, and the vines are powdered. Irrigation is used primarily in Astrakhan Oblast and the republics of Middle Asia—from nine to 12 waterings figured for 400–500 cu m per hectare. In more northerly regions, the fast-maturing Citrullus varieties can be raised by the hotbed method.
V. F. BELIK