Robert is Agribusiness Consultant who studied Agribusiness Management
Watermelon Farming Management
Watermelon is one of the profitable crop which is grown by small, medium and large scale farmers and it's known to have originated in northeastern Africa. Today, watermelon is cultivated in different countries on different scale. It is frost sensitive and are monoecious plant. Watermelons are consumed as as fruit, in fruit salads or as deserts and they contain the following nutritious ingredients; calories, vitamin C, vitamins A, B6, B1 and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, among others.
Optimal climatic conditions
- Watermelon germinate well at an optimal temperature of a range of 27-32°C, with night temperature not less than 24°C.
- During its growth, Watermelons require an optimal temperature of a range of 18-20°C at night, and a range of 24-30°C during the day, and for ripening it requires an optimal temperature of 15 to 25°C.
Watermelons are known to require long, warm growing periods. Watermelons do not do well in cooler temperature areas and areas having excessive rainfall as these have potential to slow growth, maturity and can even cause growth abnormalities among others. Make sure you avoid or prevent high humidity at the time of vegetative growth to avoid fungal diseases.
Watermelons performs well in a sandy soil but it can be grown on a wide range of soils. For optimal yield make sure you grow Watermelons in a well-drained sandy-loam soil. Watermelons does well on a soil pH having a range of 5.8 to 6.2.
One acre of land requires about 500 grams of Watermelon seed.
Make sure the soil is thoroughly cultivated for good root development. You can use a hoe to dig and make ridges where you will grow your Watermelons and you can as well prepared your land mechanically. When preparing your land, take note that Watermelons roots develop at a depth of 30-40cm. Make sure the soil where you plan to grow your Watermelons does not drain easily to below 1.2 m. During field preparation, you can prepare raised beds of at least 10cm high. Make sure the beds have a range of 1.8m to 2m apart and as wide as possible on top.
Make sure you plant your watermelons in the spring and through the summer months for optimal results.
Plant population and spacing
Make sure you observe spacing of a range of 4,000 to 8,000 plants per hectare.
Make sure you transplant and water the transplanted plants while at the same time making sure that the field is not waterlogged. Make sure planting trays are kept cool and moist in the shade until used.
Intercultural Operations For Watermelons
1. Crop rotation
Make sure you rotate Watermelons with cereals, legumes at least 2-3 seasons to avoid depletion of soil nutritions.
Make sure the field is clean to avoid build up of pests and diseases.
It is known that pinching in watermelon results in increased yield, so make sure you pinch the apical shoots when the vines are 1.5 m while at the same time allowing the side shoots to grow.
Before you apply any fertilizer in Watermelon, make sure you first do a soil analysis to know the right amount of fertilizer to apply for best results. This pre-plant soil analysis can be done at least six months prior to planting. The following fertilizers are commonly applied; N: 90-170 kg/ha: 30% pre-plant and the balance as two side dressings, P: 15-180 kg/ha: applied as a pre-plant and work down to root depth and finally K: 40-250 kg/ha: 30% pre-plant and the balance as two side dressings. Make sure that you conduct a water analysis too to know the quality of the water which you want to apply in your field.
Make sure you irrigate the field with the right amount of water to avoid waterlogging and also make sure the field is irrigated when soil moisture content is low. You can use any form of irrigation but surface irrigation is recommended.
Make sure you harvest your Watermelons on a range of 11-17 weeks after planting. Watermelon is harvested at full maturity, so make sure you are able to remove mature fruits only. Be able to check for skin colour to distinguish matured from immature fruits. Make sure you go for harvesting Watermelons in the morning and cut the stem about 2 -4 cm long and make sure you avoid pulling fruit from vines.