The Sunday Mail
This week we discuss watermelons and what it takes to do the crop.
Watermelons require an optimum temperature of 27-33 degrees Celsius for it to germinate and for it to grow well it requires between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius.
Watermelons do well in sandy loam soils, for they produce better yields. They optimal soil pH range is from 5.8 to 6.2.
Though there are different varieties of watermelons, I advise F1 hybrid varieties, like Kito F1, Tiger F1. The advantages of these hybrids is that they are high yielding and have a high disease resistance which will help reduce the cost of production and gives a good quality fruit.
On preparation, the piece of land should be thoroughly and deeply cultivated to support a good rooting system. This allows for optimal use of moisture and helps to prevent soil-borne diseases.
Raise the beds of at least 10cm high and should be between 1,8 and 2m apart and the path way should be 60 cm wide. They can be grown in spring and throughout summer, with limited planting in winter due to the low temperature.
The seed requirement per hectare is 6 000 to 8 000 plants. The best fertilizer recommendation comes from soil test results but the common ones are Compound C (250-300kg per hectare). Ammonium nitrate is applied at the rate of 200kg per hectare, split into three applications: one and three and then after two true leaf stage.
Sulphate of potash is applied at the rate of 200kg per hectare, split into two applications: between three and two true leaf stage.
Bacterial fruit blotch
Alternaria Leaf Spot
Pamela Kamuzonda is a holder of a BSc degree in Agronomy and is the founder of Unique Farming Solutions. She trains farmers, focusing on single mothers, widows and has trained over 700 farmers.