Watermelon is a very commonly used summer fruit. It is a member of the family Cucurbitaceae, hence can be called cucurbit. It is very drought tolerant and contained 93% of water. There are two types of farming are followed by local farmers. It is up to the farmer that, whether he choose the tunnel farming way to make the early approach in the market with bonus price or conventional seasonal way by cultivation in the open field after frost danger. In this article, I will discuss watermelon farming with all mandatory points which are useful for a farmer. There are the following outlines under which the whole article will be discussed,
- Watermelon benefits, watermelon side effects
- Variety selection
- Land preparation
- Planation method
- Plant protection
- Fertilizer and irrigation
- Watermelon contains 93% of water which is more effective in summer. It is a thirst quencher and it is very useful in the month of Ramadan. In the evening when fasting ends then eating watermelon can fulfill the water requirement.
- Watermelon contains antioxidants in a fair amount which is very useful for the body, they contain the energy to scavenge the free moving radicle in blood.
- Watermelon contains vitamin C which also an antioxidant in nature and gives protection for the skin and effective in joints problems. These antioxidants are also helpful for weight loss.
- Watermelon contains a pigmented antioxidant called ‘lycopene’ which is not also responsible for the red color in flesh inside as well as useful for heart diseases. It controls blood pressure and maintains the cholesterol level. From recent studies, it is revealed that watermelon contains 40 % more lycopene than tomato.
- Watermelon contains another bioactive compound called ‘citrulline’ which is responsible for skin care and effective in reducing the number of lactic acids. It is very useful for athletes.
Watermelon side effects
- Intestinal disturbance
Watermelon contains lycopene, due to excessive use of it, it can cause nausea, diarrhea, gas problem, etc.
- Cardiovascular diseases
Due to excessive use of watermelon it can lower the blood pressure. It is not suitable for low blood pressure patient.
- Not good for diabetic patient
- Cause allergic reactions in some people
- Not good for a pregnant woman
- It can create impotence and erectile dysfunction in men
- Not good for kidney patients
Selection of variety
This is very important for the farmer to select wisely the proper seed progeny. It is suggested and recommended that always select the best suitable variety which could be obtained by purchasing from different reputed seed making companies. Do not purchase the seed from a local vendor, adulteration (mixing of poor-quality seed) can be possible. Always, search for the proper variety. It is suggested by the successful grower of watermelon, ‘Augusta by Syngenta’ is a commonly used variety due to its blackish rind color and red flesh. There is another variety named ‘Sugar baby’. There are many other varieties which are used are imported or exotic varieties.
Land preparation is a very crucial step where land leveling is very important. It is suggested that like other crops, before the actual plantation field should be well fed with farmyard manure. It is suggested that apply the well-rotten farmyard manure and allow to grow raw weeds, when weeds get bigger, then rotavate the field so that field could be fed with more organic food for soil by adding plant and leave manure. It is suggested that apply the recommended method for making ridges and keep bed to bed distance 8 ft and cover the bed with black sheet and plant to plant distance is kept 1.5 to 2 ft. The time of sowing is from November to the end of December in Pakistan for those farmers who are going to cultivate by tunnel farming. Watermelon is a fruit that is cultivated very commonly in low tunnels.
Normally, all cucurbits are sown directly but some farmers is also using the plantation by nursery plant. It is up to the farmer that whether choose the direct sowing when land is prepared and beds are made with recommended distance, then holes are made within the black sheet and seed are sown. It is suggested that make up extra plants in germination trays so that in case of less germination gap-filling could be done. It is very important for the farmer that all cucurbits are more susceptible to fungal diseases so before seed sowing these seeds should be dipped in fungicides (Topsin-M) solution.
It is said by a different farmers that watermelon is more susceptible to diseases especially fungal diseases. With the time when crop grows, after frost danger when low tunnel cover is removed then crop came into the open field. All cucurbits including watermelon are susceptible to powdery and downy mildew. So, it is suggested that pre-planned spray of fungicides should be applied, when the shed is removed and when day temperature rises, and vegetation gets rushes into each other then more temperature with more humidity gives more favorable condition to fungal diseases.
There is other physiological disorder can be occurred which is very common called as ‘fruit cracking or fruit splitting’. In which fruit gets crushed due to irregular irrigation schedule. It is suggested for the farmer that maintain the irrigation schedule and do not give the watermelon plants water stress (neither drought nor over water stress).
Fertilizer and irrigation
It is clearly stated earlier that before land preparation soil should be incorporated with organic food (FYM) and during the land preparation, 65:55:55 Kg of NPK fertilizer should add just before making beds. It is suggested that add the nitrogen in the form of ammonium sulfate so that additional Sulphur could be added. For irrigation, it is up to the farmer to make a proper plan from sowing to harvesting. Irrigation interval should be set according to the “watter” or semi-wet condition and it is suggested that when fruiting starts then irrigation schedule should be maintained otherwise fruit cracking or splitting can occur.
Harvesting and yield
For understanding the maturity and ripeness, it is not clear with fruit rind color. There are many other indices used to understand maturity. A basal portion where fruit touches the soil when this portion changed from white to creamy yellow and clear yellow then it is the first indication of fruit maturity. Another technique to judge fruit maturity is fruit tapping, when fruit produces the metallic sound (seems to look like nothing inside) by tapping then the fruit is immature but incase of heavy dull sound fruit will be mature and fully ripened. Tendrils attached with stem-end side gets dried. It is a raw estimation that an average 6000 to 8000 kg per acre yield can be obtained.
It is rough estimation that whole expenditure can be ranged between 80 thousand to 1 lakh and in return farmer can get 2-3 lakh of earning.
- Variety selection is an important step, always select the best suitable for your climate by well-reputed companies.
- Normally, cucurbits are sown directly, but some farmers also use the nursery or containerized plants.
- Watermelon is best for thirst, useful to fulfill the water requirement and it contains some side effects also.
- Follow the proper preplan irrigation schedule, it is very important that never give the water stress.
- Fertilizer requirements are also important and add the recommended doses.
- Cucurbits are more susceptible to fungal diseases.
- Fruit cracking is a common physiological disorder due to irregular water schedules.
- Fruit harvesting is very important, it is harvested earlier when it is transferred to a distant market.
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