Water melon production
The melon (cucurbitacea) season is currently underway, and it is the prime time for cultivation. March typically offers favorable weather conditions, providing the melon with an optimal environment for growth. Moreover, there is a potential market with irrigation available. By engaging in melon farming from February until now, you can be assured of a promising Return On Investment (ROI) since the supply will not be excessive during the market period in April/May.
Watermelons belong to the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, muskmelons, and gourds. Watermelons thrive best in soils that retain water effectively and have good air and water infiltration rates. Ideally, the soil’s pH should range from 5.8 to 6.6. It’s important to note that watermelons are sensitive to cold temperatures, as excessive cold increases the risk of fungal infections. Throughout the growing season, watermelons require a consistent water supply. However, it’s crucial to avoid excessive watering, especially when the fruit is nearing maturity, as it can lead to fruit cracking, resulting in reduced crop yields and compromised fruit quality.
Watermelons exhibit a wide range of varieties, showcasing variations in fruit shape, color, and size.
Greenlife Crop Protection offers two exceptional F1 hybrid varieties called UWEZO F1 and DREAM F1. These varieties possess superior characteristics such as excellent keeping quality, vibrant internal color, and high productivity. When grown in the field, both UWEZO F1 and DREAM F1 require approximately 75-90 days to reach maturity.
Effective land preparation is crucial to ensure a healthy crop free from diseases and pests. Prior to planting, it is recommended to perform early weeding using either CLAMPDOWN or CATAPULT 480 SL herbicides. These herbicides are effective in eliminating both annual and perennial weeds.
One option available is Catapult Greenlife. CATAPULT® 480 SL is a broad-spectrum, non-selective systemic herbicide specifically designed for controlling post-emergence broadleaf and grass weeds in maize fields, particularly those under minimum tillage or zero tillage practices. It is also suitable for use in non-cropped areas where weed control is desired.
Planting and Fertilization
Commercial growers typically transplant around 2,800-4,400 plants per acre, spacing them in single rows that are 5-8 feet apart. This planting density requires approximately 500g of seeds per acre. The fertilizer application rate varies depending on the soil conditions, but the recommended N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) ratio is generally 40-50-50 Kg/ha.
There are two planting methods to consider: direct planting in furrows or holes, or starting the seeds in a nursery and then transplanting them after germination. When planting, it is crucial to use a phosphorous-based fertilizer to promote root formation and improve the plant’s immune system.
Seeds can be quite expensive, so regardless of the planting method (furrows, planting bags, or trays), it is recommended to treat them with a soil drench to ensure 100% germination. The recommended chemicals for treatment are PYRAMID (50g), OPTIMIZER (20ml), and LOYALTY (10g) (PLO). These treatments help protect against pests, fungi, and ensure uniform germination.
One option available is Greenlife Optimizer. OPTIMIZER® is a pure natural fermented seaweed liquid bio-fertilizer that is enriched with chelating NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium). It also contains natural plant hormones (auxins, cytokinins, gibberellins), amino acids, alginic acid, mannitol, betaine, arachidonic acid, carbohydrates, vitamins, nucleotides, humic acids, and counter-stress agents, as well as macro-elements and microelements.
Insects pose a significant challenge in watermelon production, leading to crop losses. Common pests such as cucumber beetles, aphids, leafminers, thrips, and melon flies can cause damage. Monitoring insect populations using traps and scouting techniques is essential to determine the optimal timing and frequency of pesticide applications.
Cucumber beetles are pests with chewing and biting mouthparts that primarily target the melon foliage. Effective control can be achieved with KINGCODE ELITE, using a rate of 10 ml per 20 liters of water. This insecticide is known for its contact and non-contact action. One available option is Kingcode Elite® 50 EC.
KINGCODE ELITE® 50 EC is a highly systemic and contact insecticide suitable for foliar and stem application. It exhibits broad-spectrum, long-lasting activity against sucking and chewing insects. It is widely used in agriculture to control insect pests such as aphids, thrips, whiteflies, diamond back moths, leaf miners, African bollworms, pod borers, stem borers, and leaf beetles in various edible and ornamental crops.
Leafminers and mites can cause significant damage, characterized by silvery mines on leaf surfaces for leafminers and webbing on the crop with visible red mites on the underside of leaves. ALONZE 50 EC, combined with INTEGRA at rates of 3 ml and 3 ml per 20 liters respectively, is an effective spray for controlling these pests. Consider using Alonze Greenlife.
ALONZE® 50 EC is an insecticide/miticide/nematicide that exhibits high effectiveness through contact and translaminar activities. It is used to control spider mites, thrips, leafminers, and nematodes in a broad range of edible crops and ornamentals.
Thrips and melon flies are pests that can cause damage. Thrips are piercing and sucking insects primarily found on the lower leaf surface, leading to chlorosis and dwarfing. Melon flies can damage developing fruits by depositing eggs, causing rotting or abortion. A perfect control and repellant for these pests is a combination of PROFILE 440EC and INTEGRA at rates of 30 ml and 3 ml per 20 liters respectively. Alternatively, OCCASION STAR at a rate of 5 ml per 20 liters can be used. Fly traps, used alongside the chemicals, provide comprehensive control. Consider Occasion Star Greenlife.
OCCASION STAR® 200SC is an enhanced, fast-acting insecticide with contact and stomach poison activity. It effectively controls chewing insect pests such as caterpillars, leafminers, bollworms, webworms, budworms, leafworms, fall armyworms, thrips, and spider mites in various agricultural crops.
Aphids and whiteflies are small pests that damage crops by sucking sap, inhibiting apical growth, and causing honeydew formation. For effective control, consider using KINGCODE ELITE or PRESENTO at rates of 10 ml per 20 liters and 4 g per 20 liters of water, respectively. TAURUS or SINOPHATE at rates of 10 g per 20 liters can also be used. Consider Taurus Greenlife.
TAURUS® 500SP is a potent insecticide with broad-spectrum control, particularly against sucking insects like aphids, thrips, and whiteflies in agricultural crops such as roses, French beans, runner beans, tomatoes, peppers, capsicums, melons, and more.
Lastly, keep an eye out for our upcoming newsletter, which will provide additional information on maximizing profits in watermelon cultivation. As our slogan states, “Our core business is to offer farmers in Africa support to enhance their knowledge, market access, and capital base.” We have much more to offer, and we are committed to supporting you every step of the way. Stay tuned for the next article, which will cover diseases and marketing strategies.