Watermelon is one of those sweet fruits in the same family with pumpkins and cucumber.
They grow well in sandy loam soils with good drainage.
Water melons don’t grow well in water logged areas and swamps.
There are many varieties of watermelon in Nigeria and around the world produced by different seed companies.
However I would advise that one goes for a hybrid seed variety for commercial purposes.
Let’s use an example of Sukari F1, a hybrid seed from East AFrican Seeds.
Follow these simple practices to establish your watermelon farm
1) Land clearing:
The first thing is to clear bushes from your site, cut down trees around since watermelons need direct sunlight for some good hours, so we might not grow them under shade.
You can either use herbicides to kill the weeds and bushes or you can choose to slash and plough.
After clearing your land, now you can go ahead and plough, here you can use a tractor or hand hoes, whatever is convenient for you.
3) Making raised beds:
It’s better to plant watermelons on the raised bed system, here you make beds of like 2m wide and leave pathways where you can always walk through to manage your garden.
This prevents affecting the vines as you spray or water your garden and it eases harvesting.
4) Making holes:
Using the raised bed system, we make holes at the extreme sides of the bed, spacing is normally 2m from one row to another, then 1m from plant to plant.
This means you will make over 2000 holes (spacing 2*1m)
Dig up a hole 0.5ft deep and 0.5ft wide.
After making your holes, mix the soil got from the hole with manure like chicken or cow dung then fill the hole once again. But this time don’t fill it to the brim, leave like 10cms uncovered.
You apply 2 handfulls of manure per hole
After preparing our holes well, we then get our seeds for sowing. You can choose to soak them the night before or not.
Place 2-3 seeds on the surface of each hole at different points, then push them with your finger at 2cm depth.
Then cover with a little soil.
If you sow the seedlings very deep ,they might not germinate.
▪ Management Practices:
After planting your garden, the next thing is managing it well to give you the best results.
Do the following:
👉Spraying (Fungicide and Insecticide) weekly
👉Fertilizer Application (Top dressing and Foliar application)
👉Apply Fruit Fly Traps in Your garden to trap and kill fruit flies.
👉Have a full time manager for your garden
👉Ensure regular visits to your garden, don’t take 2weeks without visiting your project.
▪ Harvesting & Marketing
Watermelons normally start flowering at 8 weeks and by the 12th week you can start harvesting your fruits.
Harvest only mature fruits, you can tell if it’s mature if it changes color at the bottom, if it produces a bam sound when hit in the sides.
Harvest the fruit with its stalk to extend it’s shelf life.
🍉Start looking for market as soon as you start preparing your land, visit local markets, hotels, restaurants, big markets and other segments.
Create enough awareness about your new project, let everyone around you know what you do.