Introduction to Growing Watermelon
Are you planning to grow watermelon? Well, you have reached right place to find out information about Growing Watermelon fruit.
This is a vine like flowering plant that originated in Africa. It is a fleshy fruit. The watermelon is extensively cultivated in Russia and the United States. The scientific name of Watermelon is Citrullus vulgaris. Watermelon belongs to Curcurbitaceae (gourd) family. The watermelons are grown in regions like tropical and sub – tropical regions. The watermelon is originated from the genus of Citrullus. They are popular as a desert vegetable; they are available round the year.
These melons are sub-divided into citron melons and watermelons. Years back they were only famous in Africa. Now – a – days there are found everywhere. In India, they are mostly found in summer seasons. It is the most resistant realizing fruit as it contains more water content in it. These countries like China, Iran, Turkey, Brazil, Egypt, United States of America, Vietnam, Algeria and Russian Federation are top ranking countries in Growing Watermelon.
Characteristics of Watermelon:
- Stem of Watermelon: The plant trails up to a height of 4 m. The stems of the plant are covered with small hair of diameter 1 cm, with woody tendrils.
- Leaves of Watermelon: The leaves of the plant are 20 cm in width and 15 cm in length, they are sessile, and on the lower part there will be a small hair, pinnato-lobulate.
- Flowers of Watermelon: Watermelon plant blooms solitary yellow flowers that are 4 cm in diameter. There are both types of flowers male and female.
- Watermelon fruit: The fruit, Watermelon is large in size; its length is 80 cm and round in shape, smooth, green in colour, with dark green bands on the fruit. The weight and size depend on the variety. The flesh of the fruit keeps changing as per the variety. The weight of the watermelon can reach up to 20 kg, but the average weight of the fruit will be 2.5 kg. The flesh is red, pink or yellow in colour.
- Seeds of Watermelon: The seeds of the fruit are black in colour. Seed is 1 cm in diameter.
Properties of Watermelon:
Nutrients that are present in Watermelon are:
- Fat: 0.15 g
- Protein: 0.61 g
- Carbohydrates: 7.55 g
- Energy: 30 kcal
- Minerals: Zinc, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Sodium, Manganese, and Phosphorus.
- Vitamins: Vitamin B6, Chlorine and Vitamin C.
Cultivars/Varieties of Watermelon:
These are common and popular varieties that are available in the market. These are the varieties of Watermelons that are grown in the tropics:
Common Varieties of Watermelon:
- This variety is oblong in shape.
- They are deep green in colour with broad dark stripes on it.
- The weight of this variety watermelon is 3 – 4 kg.
- The flesh is red in colour and tastes sweet and has 12 – 14 % of brix.
- Harvest can be done in 80 – 85 days after sowing.
- They are good for shipment and also for storing.
- The watermelon is strong, vigorous and prolific.
- They are well adapted to the high temperature.
- The quality of this variety fruit is excellent.
- The colour of this variety is light green in colour with thin dark stripes.
- It weighs around 3 – 5 kg.
- The sugar content in this variety is 11%.
- The flesh, which is inside the fruit is yellow in colour, juicy and sweet.
- They are good for long distance shipment.
- They are obtained early in the market.
- The variety is elongated in shape.
- They are dark green in colour with indistinct dark stripes.
- The rind of the fruit is thin, but it is very tough.
- The flesh of this variety is red in colour.
- They are tender and succulent.
- The sugar content ranges between 12 – 14 %.
- It weighs around 2.5 – 3.5 kg.
- Watermelon of this variety is harvested within 120 days.
- They are grown extra early.
- These varieties grow vigorously.
- Fruit setting of this variety is good in quality.
- The fruit is short in size and oblong in shape.
- The flesh is red in colour, they are delicious in taste.
- Sugar content in this variety ranges between 12 – 14 %.
- The rind is thin, but it is tough.
- They are good for shipment.
- These were 1st introduced in U.S.A
- The vine of this fruit variety is medium in size.
- Weight of each fruit is 4 – 6 kg.
- The fruit is round in shape, dark green in colour, deep purple, and stripes are blackish green in colour.
- They are crisp in nature.
- They are very sweet.
- Fruits mature in 85 – 90 days after sowing.
Special No. 1:
- This variety is small in size.
- They are round in shape.
- The flesh is red in colour.
- The maturity is early.
- They are not so appropriate for shipment.
Some hybrid varieties are Milan, Amrutha, Century, MHW 4, MHW 6, Suruchi, Samtrupti, NS 246, NS 295, MHW 11 MHW 5, and MHW 6.
Read: Growing Tamarind Fruit.
Soil and climate requirements for Growing Watermelon:
Watermelons are grown in sandy or sandy loam soils that are well drained. Poor draining soil should be avoided. These plants should not be grown in the same soil year after year as it will cause diseases to the plants. If we intend to grow the plants in the same land or soil, it should be planted after 3 years. Too sandy and too clay soil should not be used. The plant can’t tolerate wet or flooded areas or frost. The pH level of the soil should be in the range of 5.3 – 8.0.
The plant of Watermelon can tolerate hot weather and also grows properly under heat than other vegetables. The watermelon seeds germinate in warm climates, the temperature, which is required for Growing Watermelons is 25 – 30˚C. The best temperature for fruit maturity is 30˚C. The weather which is required for Growing Watermelon should be dry and should have plenty of sunshine. At the time of fruit setting and flowering there should not be continuous rainfall or cloudy climate as it can harm the plant growth. If watermelons mature during the rainy season, the sugar content of the fruit gets reduced.
Land preparation and planting for Growing Watermelon:
The land which is selected should be cleaned by removing the roots and other materials of old crop, all the weeds, stones and pebbles. Before sowing the seeds in the soil, it is always better to test the soil for knowing about the fertility and nutrients present in it. We should have knowledge of the pH level of the soil and we should also check the amount of the manganese in the soil. Watermelon plant can also be harmed by high levels of Manganese. The land should be rich in proper nutrients. The soil should be fertile while growing watermelons.
While Growing Watermelon we need to keep this in mind that the seeds should be sowed properly as it may result in good yield or else it will take long time to germinate. On one side of the land we need to spread the seeds with at least 9 cm of the gap. In one hill we can spread 8 – 10 seeds. While sowing the seeds each and every seed should be pressed into the soil. The seeds should be sown one inch deep into the soil. There should be 3 – 4 feet of the gap between the hills. For sowing, the best season is November – December.
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Seed rate: the seed rate completely depends on the variety or the hybrid. On an average, one hectare of land needs 3 kgs of seeds for small seed types. For large seed types 5 kg per hectare of land can be sown. For high yielding or hybrid varieties, the seed rate should be 0.75 – 1 kg per hectare of land.
Propagation method for Growing Watermelon:
The propagation of watermelon is done through seeds. The seeds are planted directly in the fields or they can be transplanted from the nursery.
Manure and fertilization method in Growing Watermelon:
As watermelons can tolerate the pH level of 5.6 -8.0, so the soil should be capable of holding good organic matter. The application of farmyard manure should be as recommended for an acre of land (approx. 5 tonnes of manure). As per the growing stages of the tree, the quantity of fertilization and manure application to keep changing.
- At leafing stage for 20 – 30 days it should be fertilized with NPK 19: 19:19.
- In the flowering and fruiting stage the plant should be fertilized with 12:26:10 (N: P: K) for 30 – 50 days.
- At the fruit development stage the plant should be fertilized with 10: 0: 45 (N: P: K) for 45 – 58 days.
- When the fruit is completely developed it should be fertilized for 58 – 65 days with Sulphate of Potash.
Irrigation methods in Growing Watermelon:
During the day, the soil should hold adequate amount of moisture which helps in producing good plant growth. The female flowers hold the water which helps to improve the fruit setting. To produce good size of fruits, at the time of fruit setting proper irrigation should be given. During ripening seasons, irrigation should be reduced otherwise the sugar content will be higher and the flavour will be increased when they are exposed to high moisture levels. You can adapat a drip irrigation system for better growth of the plants.
Pollination in Growing Watermelon:
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The plant has both male and female flowers. The bees play vital role in pollination. For good fruit set and good fruit development the pollen should be carried from one flower to another flower by bees. To improve the pollination wild bees are considered better. Generally, pruning is not required for the Watermelon crop. It is better to remove the fruit from the vine as early as it is matured.
Intercultural methods in Growing Watermelon:
Weeding: Depending on the season of cultivation, we need to go through the weeding process. We should never allow the weeds to spread into the surrounding of the Watermelons plants. The weeding can be done manually or by machines or also by the chemical process. Herbicides help in destroying the weed plants. While selecting the herbicides we should take a light weedicide as it will not harm the crop.
Mulching: mulching holds the moisture in the soil. It will help the plant in good growth.
Training: Watermelon should be trained for trellising the walls and fencing, by spreading the vine it will occupy more space.
Pruning: The unwanted stems should be removed so that there will be a good flow of air in the plants.
Intercropping: Watermelon crop can be intercropped with orchids.
Pinching process: To control the unwanted vines of watermelon plants the apical shoots can be removed by pinching.
Pest and diseases control measures in Growing Watermelon:
The pest and diseases that affect the Watermelon crop are:
Beetles: by sparying carbary spray the beetles can be controlled.
Powdery mildew: Morestan and Karathane can be sprayed.
Virus: Virus can be controlled by removing the plants that are affected by aphids.
Spidermite: The intensity of spider mites can be controlled by spraying Kelthane and Ekatin.
Fusarium Wilt: By implementing crop rotation the intensity of Fusarium is reduced.
Aphids: These can be controlled by spraying dibrom.
Leaf miner: It can be reduced by spraying Lannate.
Harvesting techniques in Growing Watermelon:
While harvesting the Watermelon, the farmer should have basic knowledge of harvesting techniques. Fully matured Watermelon should be selected for harvest. After sowing the seeds we need to wait till 70 – 80 days for harvesting the crop. Good quality of watermelon fruit is obtained by using various farming techniques and quality of soil in the area.
Post harvesting techniques in Growing Watermelon:
Sorting: The Watermelons should be sorted as per their size and shape.
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Grading: Watermelons should be graded as per their colour and quality.
Storing: Watermelons are not adapted to longer term storage. The temperature, which should be maintained for storing the watermelons is 10˚C – 15˚C with 90% relative humidity. After the harvest, the sugar content will not be changed, but the acidity of the fruit may change.
Marketing: As soon as these processes are done, they should be sent to the market. The watermelon should be handled carefully otherwise it will be destroyed totally.
Yield of Watermelon per hectare:
The yield completely depends on the variety and also on the seed quality. Average yield of Watermelon is 25 – 30 tonnes per hectare obtained in 120 days.