Any successful agribusiness in Kenya is either derived through dream, vision, hobby, passion or money. Every person has a dream, some of them from childhood. However, unless you act on your vision/dream, it will remain to be that; dream. Some of you would like to grow watermelons and do not know how.

Watermelons are very popular in Kenya and one bite into a sweet, juicy watermelon can make you smile. It has a high demand, which makes it a profitable fruit to grow. With a growing concern among Kenyans to stay healthy, watermelons are an instant favorite as they are mostly made of water, are plenty in nutrients and are low in calories. The best part is growing watermelons in Kenya is easy, you can reap a lot of profit from a mere acre of land. Watermelons need space to grow because of their vines, so make sure you space them well. Here is how to grow watermelons in Kenya.

soils

Watermelons are known to do well in sandy loam soils that are slightly acidic and well-drained. When watermelons are planted on heavy soils, they develop slowly, making the fruits size and quality to be inferior.
Temperatures
Watermelons do well in temperatures ranging between 220 and 280 C. Cold temperatures below 150C may cause stagnation of fruits.

Rainfall

Optimum rainfall requirement per cropping season is 600 mm and 400 mm is considered minimum. Excessive humidity may favor leaf diseases and also affect flowering.

Propagation

Watermelons are commonly direct seeded, except under conditions where the growing season is short, whereby transplants raised in containers are used. For the direct seeded, the planting depth is about 2cm and between row spacing is 1.5-1.8m, while the intra-row spacing is 30-60cm.

Transplants

Instead of planting directly in the field and have 3 weeks of accumulated weeds germination and insect attacks to battle with, planting of seeds in seed trays in a protected area for later transplant into the field when at least 2 permanent leaves have developed, is a very viable option. Watermelon is grafted in some production areas

Application of Fertilizers

Application of nitrogenous fertilisers is based on soil type. Soils with high organic matter require 80kg N/ha, while light soils require 140kg N/ha.
The nitrogenous fertiliser should be applied and incorporated into the soil at planting time. Phosphorus and potassium applications are based on soil tests, and both should also be applied at the time of planting.

Pollination of Watermelons

Watermelons produce separate male and female flowers. Male flowers are produced initially, followed by production of both sexes usually at a ratio of 1 female to 7 males. Watermelon flowers are viable for only one day hence important to have pollinating insects.

Weeding

To be done regularly to keep the field clean. Avoid injuring the plants when weeding. Fruit pruning-Remove blossom-end rot fruits to promote additional fruit set and better size of the remaining melons. If a market demands larger melons, remove all but three or four well shaped melons from each plant. To avoid disease spread, do not prune melons when vines are wet.

Read: Ksh 2000 for an Apple? Here are the most expensive fruits in the world

Harvesting

If a farmer wants to know whether watermelons are ripe and ready for harvesting, he should tap their tough covering with his finger. If they produce a dull sound, it means they are ready. You can also check the bottom part that lies on the ground; if it’s yellow, the fruit has ripened.
One acre of land if given the care as it is required should produce 15,000 fruits that weighs between 8Kg to 12 Kg or more, depending on the variety. Assuming you get 10,000 fruits in your first harvest, you can easily make Ksh 1,300,000 if you sell at Ksh 100. Watermelons can be harvested twice an year making it possible to make millions. Waste no time, invest in agribusiness as it is the future.

Read: Water storage can help farmers during dry seasons

Storage

Ensure minimum handling of melons, as extra handling is expensive and may harm the fruits.
Rotation-Watermelons can be rotated with cereals, legumes or cabbages

Pests

  • Whiteflies
  • Aphids
  • Flea Beetles
  • Red spider mites
  • Diseases

  • Damping-off diseases
  • Root-knot nematodes
  • Powdery mildew

 

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