The main season for your melon (cucurbitacea) is now on going. The weather is usually conducive in March giving the melon optimum environment for growth and also market where we have irrigation. Since water is a limiting factor, farming melon from February and now gives you a guarantee in Return On Investment since the supply will not be excessive during market period in April/May.
Watermelons are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, muskmelons, and gourds.Watermelons grow best on soils that hold water well and have good air and water infiltration rates. Soil should have a pH of 5.8-6.6. Watermelons are sensitive to cold temperatures and too much cold increases the chances of fungal infections. Watermelons require a constant supply of moisture during the growing season. However, excess water at any time during crop growth, especially as fruit reaches maturity, can cause the fruit to crack, which will reduce crop yields and fruit quality.
Watermelon comes in different varieties, with differences in shape,colour and sizes of fruits.
Superior varieties from Greenlife Crop Protection are two F1 hybrids of UWEZO F1 and DREAM F1.
Both have superior traits,keeping quality,internal colour and productivity And take from 75-90 days in the field.
Proper land preparation is the essential for healthy disease and pest free crop.Early weeding pre- planting with CLAMPDOWN or CATAPULT 480 SL to eliminate both annual and perrenial weeds.
Planting and Fertilization
Commercial growers generally transplant approximately 2,800-4,400 plants per acre in single rows 5-8 feet apart thus requiring about 500g of seeds per acre Fertilizer rate Varies depending on the soils but basically the recommended N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) application rates are 40-50-50 Kg/ha.
Planting can either be direct on furrows/holes or taking the seeds through a nursery and transplanting after germination. At planting a phosphorous based fertilizer is essential to enhance root formation and immunity.
Seeds are usually costly and thus whether planted directly on furrows,planting bags or trays they require treatment with a soil drench to ensure 100% germination. This chemicals are, PYRAMID (50g), OPTIMIZER (20ml) and LOYALTY (10g) (PLO) this ensures pest fungal free and uniformity in germination.
Insects are a major problem in watermelon production. Cucumber beetle, aphids, leafminers, Thrips and Melon flies cause crop losses. Monitoring insect populations with traps and scouting will help you determine when to apply pesticides and how often to spray.
Cucumber beetles- this are pests with chewing and biting mouth parts, whose main damage is on the foliage of the melons. They are effectively controlled by KINGCODE ELITE at a rate of 10 ml/20 litres water. This is due to its ability for contact and non contact action.
Leafminers and Mites– This devastating pests may not be easily recognized but its damage is easily noticed by silvery mines on the leaf surface for leafminers and a characteristic web on the crop with red mites visible on the lower seed surface.
Control the above pests by a spray of ALONZE 50 EC at a rate of 3 ml/20 litres Mixed with INTEGRA at a rate of 3 ml/20 litres.
Thrips and Melon flies– Thrips are piercing and sucking pests which mainly are found on the lower leaf surface. They suck the plant sap leading to chlorosis and dwarfing. Melon on the other hand damage the forming fruit by the adult depositing the eggs on the developing fruit causing rotting or abortion. PROFILE 440EC +INTEGRA at a rate of 30ml/20 lts and 3 ml/20 litres Or OCCASIONSTAR at a rate of 5 ml/20 lts is a perfect control and repellant. Use of fly traps simultaneously with the chemicals offers a total control.
Aphids and White flies-are small pests which damage the crop by sucking sa inhibating apical growth and formation of honey dew. KINGCODE ELITE or PRESENTOat 10 mls /20 lts and 4g/20 litres of water Respecticely. TAURUS or SINOPHATE at 10 g /20 lts may also be used.
Finally, check out our next Newsletter for more information on how to make money in growing melons. As our slogan goes, “Our core business is to offer farmers of Africa Support to grow their know-how, market, and capital base”
We have much more and you can be sure that we are with you every step of your way. Watch out on the next article for more on diseases and marketing.