Watermelon farming is a very profitable agribusiness. But to succeed, you must learn the best farming techniques, hence this watermelon cultivation guide.
In this article, you will learn the exact step-by-step process which successful watermelon farmers use to increase their yield.
This cultivation guide will show you the best soil composition for watermelon farming. In addition, you will learn the best ways of preparing the soil for cultivation and how to irrigate your watermelon farm.
That’s not all. You will also learn the best varieties of watermelon, weed control, and watermelon pests and diseases.
Now, without further ado, let’s get into the juice of this watermelon farming guide.
Watermelon Cultivation Guide – How To Grow Watermelon Step-By-Step
You can make good profits from the cultivation of watermelons if you apply a good farming method and farm management practices. This watermelon cultivation guide will take you through the step-by-step process of growing water from start to harvest.
The steps you need to follow for a successful watermelon harvest are as follows;
Step 1. Select a good site for cultivating watermelon:
The first step in this watermelon cultivation guide is to choose a good site for cultivating the plant.
A good farm site for the cultivation of watermelons must meet the following criteria
- The site must have a flat topography and not be sloppy.
- Also, the soil must be fertile well-drained sandy loamy soil that is rich in organic matter.
- Ensure the soil has a good pH level. Watermelons, prefer to grow in slightly acidic soil just like other members of the melon family. Specifically, they thrive well in soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 6.8.
- Watermelon farming requires a long period of heat, just as it is for okra farming, to be able to produce sweet fruits. Specifically, it requires a long and warm growing season of at least 70 to 85 days.
- As a result, the site must have enough sunlight with a minimum temperature of 18°C and a maximum temperature of 35°C for optimum growth and fruit yield.
For farmers in colder climates, there are two ways to succeed in watermelon farming;
- Grow the watermelon seeds indoors before taking them out.
- Secondly, watermelon farmers in colder regions can succeed by planting short-season varieties of the crop.
Step 2: Prepare the land for watermelon cultivation:
Land preparation for watermelon farming involves a series of steps including cutting, tilling, and treating the soil.
Here are the steps to follow when preparing the land for planting your watermelon seeds.
- Cut down all vegetation, trees, and shrubs that could obstruct sunlight from reaching the watermelon plant.
- Ensure you bury all plant residues properly with soil or burn them. You can preserve some of the residues and use them as mulching material for the plant.
- The best form of tilling the soil for planting watermelons is to use conservation tillage.
- Forming raised beds is the best especially when the soil is of sandy loamy texture class.
- In farm sites where the soil is clayey or hard, a little plowing and harrowing may be necessary to loosen the soil. It also helps to facilitate deeper rooting and create room for better penetration of water.
- In addition, treat the soil with chemicals to destroy disease vectors or pests that may be present in the soil.
- You can also use the method of solarization to treat the soil.
- Finally, apply preemergence herbicides for weed control prior to planting the watermelon seeds.
When you are done preparing the soil for watermelon farming, it is time to get your seeds ready for planting.
Step 3: Select a viable watermelon seed variety for planting:
Planting of watermelon seeds begins the selection of a good variety that will produce sweet watermelon fruits.
Also, the variety you choose should be such that will produce large watermelon fruits that will command a high price in the market.
There are many varieties of watermelon seeds suitable for commercial watermelon farming.
You can get quality watermelon seeds from local seed shops or from government agricultural agencies.
Some of the best varieties of watermelon seeds for commercial watermelon farming include:
- Black Diamond
- All Sweet
- Royal Sweet
- Crimson Sweet
- Moon & Stars
- Charleston Gray and so on.
Note that it is not advisable to plant seeds you got from previous watermelon fruits after consuming them.
If you plant such, it will produce watermelons that are not sweet.
Also, the watermelon plant will have a high risk of disease infection and the yields will be very poor.
Here are the things you need to do before planting watermelon seeds
- Before planting the watermelon seeds, make sure you treat them with fungicides to protect them from fungal diseases in the soil.
- Also, soak the watermelon seeds in warm water for 12 to 15 hours, drain them, and leave them in a wet bag overnight. This treatment will boost the germination of the watermelon seeds.
- When your watermelon seeds are ready for planting, make sure the soil temperature is warm enough to ensure rapid germination.
- In addition, make sure you don’t plant your seeds too early in the season. If you do this, the seed will experience a delay in germination. As a result, it will develop uneven stands and increase the tendency of losing some plants.
- The proper way to plant watermelon seeds in the soil is to put 2 – 3 seeds in a hole that is 1 inch deep, and then close the hole with loose soil.
- After germination, thin the crop to 1 or 2 stands to reduce competition among the plants.
- Watermelon requires a plant spacing of 3 – 4ft apart within a row and 6 – 8ft apart between rows. This will give the plant enough space to spread its vines.
Step 4: Irrigate the watermelon farm:
Since watermelon is a heat-loving plant, you’d expect that the best time to plant would be at a time when there is low rainfall. As a result, you have to water the watermelon seeds for the first three weeks after planting if there is no rainfall. You must do this twice a week without waterlogging the plant.
When the seeds start sprouting, reduce the frequency of watering to once every 10 days. But as soon as the vines begin to spread out, you can stop watering altogether. By this time, there should be rainfall at least every two weeks, if not, then you must water the plants according to schedule.
As the fruit begins to get large, you can stop watering the plants even if there is no rainfall. This will allow the sugars in the fruit to concentrate and make the flesh stay crisp, producing better-tasting watermelons.
If you can afford it, the best way to irrigate your watermelon farm is to use the drip irrigation method.
Step 5: Control weed development on the watermelon farm:
Weed control in watermelon farming begins from the time of land preparation. This is necessary because weeds compete with watermelon plants for available space, water, and nutrients. So, it is important to ensure that the land is weed-free.
To use herbicides for weed control prior to planting, apply the chemical just before planting the watermelons. This will hold back the weeds from growing until your watermelon seeds germinate.
Once the watermelon plants have three or four leaves, some weeds may also begin to emerge. At this time, shallow hoeing and an application of a post-emergence herbicide such as sethoxydim or clethodim may control the weeds.
Step 6: Apply fertilizer Application – Watermelon Cultivation Guide:
Watermelons respond favorably to manure and chemical fertilizers. Hence, feed the plant with well-rotted manure to provide nutrients for growth and yields.
If you are going to use a chemical fertilizer, then use a nitrogen-based fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer 2-3 weeks after planting the watermelon seeds. By this time, the watermelon seedlings must have sprouted.
Be careful not to apply phosphorus and potassium-based fertilizers in the early stage of planting. This will affect the good quality of the fruit and hasten it to ripen.
As soon as the plant begins flowering, you should reduce the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers and increase the use of phosphorus and potassium-based fertilizers. This will ensure that the plants are getting ample nutrients for the optimal production of high-quality fruit.
Step 7: Care for the watermelon fruit:
Because watermelon is a crawling plant like every other vine crop, you’d expect that the fruit will develop on the soil. So, to grow great watermelons, you will need to prevent the fruits from making direct contact with the soil.
Put a good barrier like straws between the watermelons and the ground to reduce the risk of rot and diseases. Straw is an agricultural by-product consisting of the dry stalks of cereal plants after the grain and chaff have been removed.
Ensure that the straws are dry before you place them under the fruit so that they will not cause more harm than good.
Step 8: Control Watermelon Pests and Diseases:
The most common pests that affect watermelons are spider mites and aphids. Spider mites thrive in the hot, dry season and they feed on the plant’s sap causing the vines to defoliate in a short time. On the other hand, aphids are common after cool seasons. Other watermelon pests are beetles, melon worms, leaf miners, maggots, as well as thrips.
To control these watermelon pests, spray Acetamiprid, Deltamethrin, Imidacloprid, Thiamethoxam, Lambda-cyhalothrin, or Methomyl according to the prescription. These will destroy the pests and also prevent them from hurting your watermelons.
Diseases that affect watermelon plants include; fusarium wilt, Downey mildew, powdery mildew, gummy stem blight, anthracnose, and mosaic virus among many others.
How to control the spread of diseases on a watermelon farm
To manage the spread of diseases on your watermelon farm, use the following tips:
- Do not overcrowd the plants
- Also, ensure you remove old plant residues or bury them completely in the soil.
- Make sure you follow a good crop rotation plan with maize plants and other non-cucurbits.
- You can also use soil solarization techniques to curb diseases from spreading.
- Ensure you expose the plants to adequate sunlight and good air circulation.
- Also, avoid the use of overhead irrigation methods.
- Finally, use chemicals to deter the buildup of diseases.
Step 9: Harvest the watermelon fruits and store them properly:
Like most other fruits and vegetables, timing is very important when it comes to harvesting watermelon.
If you harvest the fruit too soon, it won’t be sweet.
In the same way, if you wait too long before harvesting the fruit, it may be mushy and unappealing.
So, you need to know the exact them you have to harvest your watermelon fruits.
But, how can you do that?
How to know when your watermelon is ripe for harvest
Here are some ways to tell if your watermelon is ready for harvest.
You are sure to harvest watermelons in peak condition, very sweet and crisp by following these steps:
- Inspect the color on the top of the fruit. If there is a little contrast between the stripes, then it is ripe for harvest.
- Secondly, thump the watermelon with your knuckles. If it sounds hollow, then certainly, you are in for a real treat.
- Another way is to check the color of the spot that was laying on the ground. If the color of the spot is white, it means that the watermelon is not ready for harvest. However, a cream or yellow color on that spot signifies that your watermelon is ripe for harvest.
- Finally, If the spiral coil near the stem of the watermelon is half-dead, the watermelon is nearly ripe or ripe. When brown and dried up, the harvest is ready.
How to harvest watermelons
When harvesting the watermelons, cut off the stem with a sharp knife close to the fruit and store it properly for sorting and grading before sending them to the market.
Sorting and grading of watermelon fruits
After harvest, sort the watermelon fruits and grade them accordingly.
The criteria for sorting is based on their external appearances which include their size and weight.
When taking your watermelons to the market, make sure they are uniform in appearance and have a waxy bright surface devoid of scars, transit abrasions, and other surface defects.
If you got some post-harvest losses as a result of stacking or watermelon fruits dropping on the floor mistakenly, you can still sell the defective fruits at a cheaper price to nearby markets.
How to effectively store watermelon fruits after harvest
- You can store whole watermelons for about 2 – 3 weeks depending on the variety.
- If cut open, wrap it tightly in plastic and stored it in the refrigerator. An open watermelon can last for about 4 days in this condition.
- Avoid storing watermelons with apples and bananas as they produce ethylene while in storage that softens and changes the flavor of watermelon.
- If you are going to transport the watermelon fruits to a distant market, store the watermelons in a refrigerating van at 7.2°C with 85-90% relative humidity. However, holding watermelon at this temperature for too long will induce chilling injury to the fruit. If you transport the watermelons to the market without pre-cooling or refrigerating during transit, then the fruits must be consumed immediately as quality declines rapidly under these conditions.
Health benefits: Why is watermelon good for you?
Watermelon has a lot of health benefits that result in its high demand in the market.
However, this article contains only 5 of the reason people should take watermelons daily.
You can include some of these health benefits in your marketing materials to convince consumers to only eat watermelons.
1. Watermelon helps to lower inflammation and oxidative Stress
A more interesting fact that makes watermelon necessary in our daily diet is the presence of lycopene. Lycopene is the carotenoid phytonutrient that gives the red coloring found in fruits like red carrots, red tomatoes as well as watermelons.
A lot of research shows that the antioxidant properties of lycopene are beneficial for reducing the risk of stroke and it also lowers blood pressure levels.
Imbalances in antioxidants cause oxidative stress and this is inevitable in humans. This oxidative stress leads to inflammation which is a key driver of many chronic diseases. Eating watermelons may help lower inflammation and oxidative damage, as it’s rich in the anti-inflammatory antioxidants lycopene and vitamin C.
2. Eating watermelon keeps you hydrated and full
Ever wondered why watermelon is called watermelon? That’s because watermelon contains a whopping 92% of water, making it one of the best sources of hydration on a raging sunny day.
Drinking water is important to keep your body hydrated and watermelon has high water content.
This makes the fruit hydrating and helps you feel full.
3. Watermelon helps to lower blood pressure
Besides lycopene, watermelons also contain an amino acid called citrulline. The kidney and other body systems convert this citrulline into arginine which greatly improves blood flow in the body.
In addition, citrulline provides some cardiovascular health benefits by increasing nitric oxide levels in the body. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that relaxes and dilates blood vessels in your body. Dilating the blood vessels means that nitric oxide makes the vessels larger, therefore more blood can pass freely.
If blood does not flow freely in the body, it leads to clogging of the blood vessels. When this happens, there is an increase in blood pressure resulting in the risk of heart attacks and stroke. So, eating watermelon is healthy to prevent all of these experiments in your body system.
4. Skin and Hair Benefits
Watermelons contain Vitamins A and C, two vitamins that are very beneficial for your hair and skin. Vitamin A is important for healthy skin because it helps create and repair skin cells.
When your body lacks enough vitamin A, your skin can look dry and flaky. Vitamin C, on the other hand, helps your body make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin smooth and your hair strong.
It’s also an important natural antioxidant for anti-aging benefits.
5. Watermelon aids in proper digestion
Watermelon contains huge amounts of water which can aid digestion. It also contains fiber, which encourages a healthy digestive tract and helps prevent constipation.
So, there you have it, the complete watermelon cultivation guide. From this article, it seems like watermelon farming is not very difficult after all, right?
However, no matter how well I try to explain all the watermelon farming tips to you in this guide, it can never replace what an expert watermelon farmer will show you. So, try to locate a watermelon farmer near you can get a first-hand experience from them.
To your success in watermelon farming, cheers!!