Steps On How To Start Watermalon Farming
Watermelon is widely cultivated all over Africa, It is very popular around the world. Large quantities of watermelon consumed in Southern Nigeria come from the Northern part of the country.
However, watermelon can be cultivated in any part of the country, and this article will guide you through the steps in planting and harvesting watermelon in your location.
The first step to starting a successful watermelon farm is choosing a suitable location that supports the growth of this fruit. One of the requirements of watermelon is that it requires a hot and dry climate, making the northern part of the country naturally suited for farming watermelon.
However, this does not mean it cannot be planted in the south. Watermelon also requires sandy or loamy soil that is well-drained and the farm must be exposed to sunlight.
Watermelon, when planted, does well in a hot, dry climate; it is little wonder why it is widely cultivated in the Northern part of the country. But be informed that the ideal planting region for this plant is not necessarily the North. It can be cultivated in any part of the country.
Cultivation usually commences during the rainy season to take advantage of the relatively low humidity associated with the rainy season Planting begins in Northern Nigeria in December for the early season or December for the late season.
Generally, watermelon can be planted all year round in the North as long as their adequate water supply, through irrigation. In Southern Nigeria, planting commences in December which is the early planting season. Planting can be done in the mid-planting season which is either in late December or early December.
There is a late planting season too which is in December or December. The mid-season planting is highly dependent on the rain. If the rains which are expected to commence in mid-December start much earlier, then planting is possible in this period.
The ideal soil for cultivating watermelons is either sandy soil or loamy soil. The farm should be adequately sunlit and to boost soil fertility, organic manure or fertilizer in the right proportion should be added to the soil.
Watermelon requires a lot of space. The plant is a rambling vine and can smother anything it comes in contact with. Even if watermelons are not climbers, they can be trained on a trellis.
Trellis help increase their exposure to sunlight and also help to save space. You will need a bit of expertise when constructing or installing the trellis because they need to be strong enough to support the weight of the developing fruit.
Plow the land before planting. Plant the same day of plowing. It has been observed that planting this way is better than waiting till the next day. Before watermelon can be planted, you need to prepare the land.
To prepare the land in anticipation of planting, plow the land and plant that same day.
However, you can wait till the next day if you wish. There are different seed varieties of watermelon such as the black diamond, Congo, crimson sweet, and moon & stars.
Learn about each of these varieties and their unique features and requirement before making a decision on which to plant. Watermelon is planted usually at the beginning of the rainy season or the end of the rainy season.
You can plant a watermelon on either a flat surface or on ridges. However, it is recommended you plant on ridges. Also, note that watermelon requires a lot of space. The plant is a rambling vine and can smother anything it comes in contact with.
Although they do not climb, you can train them on a strong trellis to increase their exposure to sunlight and also save space. Far The planting hole should be about 30cm in depth. The planting rows should be about 2 meters apart and the spacing between plants should be 1 foot apart.
There are many variants of the watermelon plants from which you can select when starting your farm. Some of these are :
The black diamond species is almost black and its rind is a bruise-resistant rind. It is sweet-tasting and has luscious flesh.
This species has juicy red flesh and has high sugar content. The melon is oblong and medium green with dark-green stripes. This species is generally common in Nigeria.
Moon and Stars
This is watermelon variety is characterized by its red flesh.
This is a really sweet variety of watermelon species. It has a deep red flesh with a unique dark-green striped rind. This is another common variety in Nigeria.
Watermelon can be planted on flat land or ridges. If the soil is clay, planting on a ridge or bed is recommended. On the other hand, you can plant on flat land if the soil is loamy. The planting hole should be about 30 cm in depth.
When growing in commercial quantities you can plant on ridges. The soil used should be well-drained because the watermelon plant doesn’t do well in a waterlogged environment.
It is never recommended to grow your watermelon in the nursery. Usually the watermelon seed sprouts within a few days. The plant rows should be about 2 meters apart and the spacing between plants should be 1 foot apart. Growing the plant in raised rows ensures good drainage.
Generally, the method of planting also depends on the variety. If you are planting the Congo or Crimson Variety, you should make sure the rows are at least 10 feet apart.
Before planting, you can evaluate the quality of the watermelon seeds by dipping them into a salt solution ( 3-5 % ). The ones that should be planted should readily sink into the bottom of the bowl.
Additionally, the leathery seeds need to be softened before they can be planted. Also, you can make the plants more resistant to pests and diseases by drying the seeds under the sun for a week before planting.
You should add humus to the soil before planting. This is better than organic manure because manure often affects the taste of the watermelon and it weakens the resistance of the plant to disease.
You can also use inorganic fertilizers like phosphorus and potassium.
You need to water the plant once a week until they become mature. You can also mulch the soil. This is important because watermelons need adequate moisture for optimal growth. Mulch also helps to keep the weeds out.
Also, you should be adding organic manure frequently. You can also use inorganic fertilizers. The growing plant requires a high level of nitrogen, however, once the plant flowers and fruits you can reduce the nitrogen supply and increase the phosphorus and potassium supply.
You can adjust the tip of the watermelon vine to grow in the direction. You can also use trellis to support their growth and increase their exposure to sunlight. A certain insect called the leaf-eating beetle often disrupts the growth of watermelon by attacking the leaves.
You can reduce the attack on the watermelon leaves by improving the soil conditions of the plant. In this case, the watermelon plant will grow fast enough to diminish the effect of these beetles.
In terms of disease infestation, mildew is a fungus that affects the leaves of the plant. You can avoid this disease by preventing the leaves of the watermelon from staying wet long enough to cause mildew.
This can be done by avoiding overhead watering.
After planting, you need to nurture your crop so you can get the maximum economic value from them. The first thing to take note of is mulching, you need to do that because they help keep weed away and keep the soil moist. Also important is watering.
This should be done once a week until the crop matures. You should also apply manure or inorganic fertilizer when necessary.
you do the above, guard against pests and diseases as they can dip the whole of your investment in vain. It takes about 3 months for watermelon to be ready for harvest. When the tendrils are dry and you can hear a dull sound when flapping the fruit.
When it is confirmed they are ready for harvest, cut the stems close to the fruit with a sharp knife.
It takes 3 months for watermelon to mature in readiness for harvest. This means you can plant up to 3 times a year. The watermelon should be ready for harvest once they are fully ripe.
The signs of ripening include the dryness of the tendrils as well as a dull sound when flapping the fruit.
At this point when you put pressure on the melon, you can hear a crackle around the rind. Another way to confirm its time to harvest is by checking the bottom of the melon. This part which is closest to the soil should have turned deep yellow from white.
Also, the color at the top is important. When the watermelon turns ripe, there’s usually a contrast between the strips. The stems should be cut with a sharp knife close to the fruit.
Watermelon can last up to 10 days, however, once cut, they would only last about 4 days.
You should have known your target market before starting your farm to enable you to deliver your products to specific delivery points.
This is done so that your products don’t have to stay on the farmland too long before they are transported to their target customers. Watermelon is a perishable good so note that once harvested, it can only last for a few days.
With this in mind, you should have a buyer close to your farm or where you can access it before the goods perish.read more