Watermelon - Citrullus lanatus is an important cucurbitaceous vegetable/Fruit in India. It is an excellent desert fruit and its juice contains 92% water along with proteins, minerals and carbohydrates.
Lot of watermelon varieties are chose by farmers to grow in different locations. Watermelon crop duration depends on the type of watermelon [Striped or Icebox] and the varieties produced by different seed producers. The crop duration among the available and farmers are growing ranges from 55 days to 120 days.
Some of the varieties of watermelon to list are
Seminis Apoorva, Black magic, Mayco Super Sakkar, Sugar pack, Red Magik, NS 292, or follow the link: https://www.bighaat.com/pages/search-results-page?q=watermelon&page=2
Watermelon cultivation is more in dry climatic conditions. The season for these melon crops starts just after the receding of north east monsoon rains. The soil temperatures usually will range from 18 0C to 20 0C but extreme chillness can cause problems.
The light and temperature are vital requirements for proper flowering in watermelon crop. Soil pH for watermelon crop should be in between 6.5 to 7.5 for best growth and development. Drainage of the soil is most important since the waterlogged conditions may not support the survival of the crop.
Spacing and number of plants
Spacing followed by farmers in cultivating watermelon is 4 - 5 feet in between rows and 2 feet to 2.5 feet in between plants. The number of plants per acre may range from 3400 to 4500.
The seed requirement ranges from 400 gms to1.5 kg per acre totally depends on the seed varieties and crop types.
Major nutrients Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium requirements maybe considered two options. The shorter duration varieties may be supplemented with 50:40:50 kg/acre/ crop and 65:50:65 kg/acre/ crop for long duration varieties.
Land preparation and Basal application requirements
Apply to the soil the 5-6 tonnes of Farm Yard Manure or well decomposed compost mixed with Biofertilizers 5 kg, Trichoderma 2 kg; Pseudomonas 2 kg & Biofertilisers before formation of ridges and furrows. Mix with soil and form ridges and furrows with suitable spacing.
Nutrients as basal dose
- Diammonium Phosphate 50 kg,
- Muriate of Potash 50 kg,
- Urea -- 25 kg
- Micronutrient mixture 5 - 10 kg,
- Magnesium Sulphate 25 kg,
- Root growth promoters 10 kg
- 5 kg Furadon
- Neem cake 250 kg
Water conservation and pest management technologies
- Regions with water scarcity should be practiced with integrated cultivation techniques to conserve water. Generally, drip irrigation technology is adapted by the farmers.
2. To conserve moisture in the soil, arrest weed growth by covering the soil surface with mulching sheets. Silver black or white black mulch paper of 25-30 micron may be used. Mulch paper is spread or laid to the ridges or bunds prepared to sow the seeds or plants.
By around 20-25 days after planting 50 kgs of Urea is top dressed per acre of watermelon and for mulched crop the through drip the top dressing may be supplemented.
Methods of planting:
Mostly in Watermelon, in situ method of sowing is followed.
- Furrow method:
Furrows are made at 1 to 1.5 m and sowing is usually done on the top of the sides of furrows and the vines are allowed to trail on the ground especially in summer season.
- Bed method:
In some regions, bed system is in fashion where the seeds are sown on the periphery of beds. The width of the bed is almost double to the row to row spacing.
- Hill method or raised beds or raised point:
The hills are spaced at a distance of 0.5- 0.75m and 2-3 seeds are sown per hill, after germination only one or two plants per hill are retained. This method facilitates proper drainage especially in heavy rainfall regions.
- Pit Method:
Generally, it is followed in southern India. The pit is lower than the normal bed surface.
Seed treatment, Nursery management and Transplanting:
Watermelon crop is usually propagated through seeds but since seeds are big nursery raising may not be required. Seed treatment with some protective agents may still help better germination, good survivability and also better yields.
This mixture can be used to treat roots of saplings before transplanting. Since saplings or early germinated plants are more vulnerable to pests and diseases, the nursery growing of saplings have become must. The saplings can be procured from nurseries where quality saplings or seedlings are raised.
Seedlings are grown before, 15 -20 days old saplings are transplanted in the main field after sowing. However healthy quality seedlings can be procured from scientifically maintained nurseries.
Irrigation: Ridges or hills or beds are to be irrigated a day or two prior to sowing of seeds or plants and then light irrigation is to be given 4 or 5 days after that. Flooding of hills is to be avoided and crust formation of the top soil should be prevented.
...Continued next blog
WATERMELON GROWING TIPS - CROP PROTECTION - Insects and Management
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