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All Watermelon growing stages that you need to know

Watermelon belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family where all the members in this family are known as cucurbits. Watermelon is a summer crop and is very popular globally. Watermelon reduces the hotness and thirst of water. There are many varieties but red flesh varieties are very popular. There are many varieties but Sugar Baby is the sweetest one and seedless as well.  Watermelon growing stages impart more impact.

Watermelon is a common food in the summer season, consumed abundantly when summer’s come and it reduces the effect of hotness and thirst of water and gives the cool effect to the body.  I am not going into the details of the benefits and uses of watermelon today. I will discuss watermelon’s growing stages along with its post-harvest management.

There are five different watermelon growing stages which are following,

  • Germination
  •  Vegetative watermelon growing stage
  •  Vinning
  •  Watermelon flowering stage
  •  fruit setting
  •  fruit maturity

There is also confusion about the real definition of watermelon whether it is a fruit or vegetable. So, watermelon is classified technically under the Cucurbitaceae family where other members are vegetables so its means that by horticulturists or taxonomists, watermelon belongs to the vegetable group but on the other hand generally by people pronounce it as a fruit because its edible portion is fruit and it is not used as for vegetable purpose but treated as a fruit.

So, the question is which term is good and in my opinion, watermelon is a vegetable if we talk about its classification which is based on edible portion but on the other hand according to the usage of general purpose it is known as fruit but I will give more priority to the first condition.

Now comes to the watermelon growing stages,

Watermelon growing stage
As you can see above that 50% is used before fruit maturity which is complete in the first two months whereas the fruiting stage takes more than a month. (See the details down below)

Seed selection and germination 

Seeds could be selected in two ways the first one is seeds selected by fruit which is usually done for growing at home whereas for commercial purposes in the largest area of the ground seed is generally purchased from the seed market. Germination and sprouting of watermelon seeds depend upon the environment generally where the normal temperature remains with adequate amounts of water. It generally grows up to eight to ten days which generally depends upon the surrounding temperature.

Vegetative growth

It is the initial watermelon growing stage, vegetative growth accumulates all the lifespan of the plant until its reproductive stage before initiation of watermelon flowering stages. Under the technical term, these all growth stages are known as critical stages. Under this stage, plants complete their vegetative process to prepare themselves for the reproductive stage.

Vining

This is the second watermelon growing stage where the plant gets mature and long enough to start spreading itself in the surrounding up to 12 inches in length due to the crawling nature of the plant. In this stage when plants start growing as a crawling plant, each growing point is a future reproductive structure but it is the destination of nature that only one growing plant turns into a flower and then fruit setting and fruit as a final outcome.

The interesting part of each growing point has an equal chance to grow simultaneously but by nature, only one growing point is set as a fruit setting while others may fall their flowers. Remember vegetative state takes up to almost 60 days.

Watermelon growing stages
Watermelon growing stages

Watermelon flowering stage

This is the third and critical watermelon growing stage which is the production stage. Watermelon has a hermaphrodite flower on which male and female flowers are present in the same plot but on the different growing parts. Flowers get pollinated with insects, through the air or by hand if growing watermelons at home.  The flowering stage moves further towards fruit setting and then towards maturity where it takes almost more than a month.

Fruit maturity

This watermelon growing stage is very critical and growers should be very careful last month when plants accomplish the fruiting. Doing cultural practices like the application of irrigation may affect the sweetness of the watermelon.  It is suggested by the experts that watermelon will be sweeter if there is less water application near the completion of fruit maturity. If there is rain at the time of harvesting then there are more chances to affect the sweetness of the watermelon.

Watermelon growing stages

How to understand that watermelon has been ripened?

Only from visibility like thick green color are the size of fruit we can not decide that fruit has been mature. But, on the other hand technically to check whether watermelon is completely matured could be understood by tapping to the thick skin and if watermelon produces a hollow sound then it means fruit get to nature the other way to check the maturity is that vines will be dried off and also the basal portion of watermelon has some different color like yellow are maybe some other. 

Post-harvest life of watermelon

Watermelon is a much more perishable horticultural commodity with 3 to 4 days of its shelf life and after that, it turned into spoiled fruit with more water content so only 3 to 4 days are consumable.

Why is post-harvest handling so important for watermelon?

Because, after the phase of complete maturity, watermelon goes towards the phase of the quick ripening process and then into senescence phase and as I have described earlier in the above section that watermelon exists maintain itself according to its color and taste for only 3 to 4 days and by the way it is harvested in the hot summer season so its shelf life will be less at ambient temperature in summer season watermelon strives for up to the two days but in the fridge, it can be a long-lasting up to maximum four days.

How to store watermelon in the storage room

It is generally, harvested in the summer season when there is a hot temperature in the surroundings as well as draught air but if there is raining during the harvesting time then there may be a problem occur and it is necessary to take care of the watermelon should be placed under the dried surface and do not directly put them on the soil but there should be some kind of wrapping material should be used.

The other issue is regarding transport in Pakistan. Farmers took the watermelon through the local transport system but I don’t want you to tell here what they are actually using. You can Google it and you will find very beautiful pictures. So, I was talking about storage of watermelon and there may be some post-harvest diseases main attack due to higher humidity with relational higher temperature normally it is anthracnose and other fungi like sooty mold may create a problem to reduce the aesthetic value of the fruit.

Packaging of watermelon

Friendly speaking,  there is no such kind of packaging is still adopted by the farmers due to its bigger size with higher weight but they laid on each other in the form of layers and then transferred to the other places but in the developed countries it may have some kind of packaging material to use it as a brand of course but I am talking about of my country which is Pakistan.

How long does it take to grow watermelon?

Watermelon is a short-season horticultural commodity and normally it takes almost 3 months until fruiting.  It completes its vegetative growth months early and then takes 1 or more than one months to complete fruit maturity. 

How many watermelons do you get per plant?

Only one fruit per plant is obtained and maybe sometimes plants may give you more than one fruit per plant then it means that its food and water have been distributed equally among fruits resultantly in less sweetness.

If you are looking for how to grow watermelons then proceed here.

Conclusion

  • Watermelon growing stages also known as critical growing stages because each stage have some criteria regarding some growing practices as well as involvement of environment for example germination will take place at its slightly lower temperature with adequate amount of water and after germination plant  can bear more temperature and then when fruit is set and until maturity grower should apply less amount water before one week of harvesting so that watermelon will be more sweet.
  • Watermelon flowering stage is another critical stage, at that time pollination should be possible and it can be approached by hand as well at this stage fertilizer application like nitrogen should be applied in less amount because nitrogen fertilizer increases vegetative growth and lowers reproductive growth.
  • Fruit maturity of watermelon is determined by different maturity indices like tapping the fruit Observing basal colour and drying of vines. 
  • Post harvest handling of watermelons are also important from harvesting to storage and storage towards the market and into the hands of consumers.  Watermelon is a perishable horticultural commodity whose shelf life is up to 3 to 4 days.