- The spacing of the crop is critical as it grows in vines and spreads on the ground. The spacing from one plant to another should thus be 1.5x1 metre.
- With every plant generating 20 kilos of fruit, a farmer with a quarter an acre piece will get an average yield of seven to eight tonnes of melons.
- Weeding, pest, and disease control should be done before the vines start spreading.
- It is advisable to protect the crop against the insect during the early stages of growth. Traps with pheromones can therefore be used to control the destructive insect and its larvae.
Watermelon is a vine crop that is simple to grow since it requires little maintenance. The fruit has a high water content, increasing its perishability and, therefore, cannot be stored for long.
Alex, a watermelon farmer in Kajiado County, explains how he lost his crops recently. It rained heavily after he had planted the watermelons, resulting in the rotting of the seeds.
In another block of his farm, the mature excess water resulted in the bursting of the fruits. The first nitrogen flash causes the mature watermelon to burst out.
The farmer incurred huge losses because his production and supply to customers was greatly reduced. The crop requires very little water during its entire growth. It is thus mostly grown in semi-arid areas under irrigation.
As the fruit develops, it requires less water. This makes it sweet due to the sugar content and concentration.
The crops require six to eight hours of direct sunlight daily. This helps in the development of the fruit. Excess water causes most newly sowed seeds to rot, drastically reducing the germination rate.
Heavy rain during the vegetative stage is bad for the melon as it causes defoliation. Fungal diseases spread easily.
The spacing of the crop is critical as it grows in vines and spreads on the ground. The spacing from one plant to another should thus be 1.5x1 metre.
The melon can be planted by direct seeding or transplanting after sowing the seeds in a nursery for a month.
It’s advisable to use seedling trays as this ensures the seedlings are transplanted with a lump of soil, resulting in minimal disturbance of the roots.
Generally, fruits take three to four months to mature, depending on the variety and ecological conditions.