How to Start Watermelon Farming in Nigeria is bringing to your perusal the procedures involved in starting Watermelon Farming from beginning to end.
- Site Selection and Preparation for watermelon farming
- Seed Selection and Seed Planting
- Caring for watermelon farming
- Seed Control for an adequate Watermelon Farming
- Pests and Diseases Control for a successful watermelon farming
- Sorting and Marketing
Watermelon, scientifically known as Citrullus lanatus is said to have originated from the Kalahari Desert of Africa with the first harvest recorded to have occurred in Egypt.
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Watermelon is a fruit characterized by a juicy, reddish mesocarp and green epicarp. It grows optimally in semi-arid or arid regions. This is why it is mostly cultivated in Northern Nigeria.
The dominant constituent composition of watermelon is basically water, well stocked with nutrients highly essential to human health.
It is a rich source of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C, Vitamin E, and lots more. Watermelon contains antioxidants known as lycopene which helps to curtail cancerous growth and lowers blood pressure. Thereby reducing the risk of developing a stroke.
Watermelon helps to improve blood flow, aids easy digestion of a meal, and prevents skin dehydration, and lots more.
Watermelon could be extremely refreshing, especially when served cold, on a sunny day. It is also served alongside meals as a source of vitamins and used to make juice.
Cultivation of watermelon could be very lucrative when you know the quintessence of the business.
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How to Start Watermelon Farming in Nigeria:
1. Site Selection and Preparation for watermelon farming
The first step to start a successful watermelon farming is to choose a suitable farm location. Watermelon requires fertile, well-drained, sandy loamy soil with a high composition of organic matter.
Ensure your soil pH is slightly acidic within the range of 6.0-6.8. Also, recall that Watermelon thrives well in a sunny environment (heat).
Therefore, ensure there is enough sunlight in your selected location to bring about optimal growth and high yield.
Having taken these into consideration, cut down trees and shrubs that could obstruct sunlight from reaching the watermelon plant.
Clear all weeds and debris on land. Use a harrow to loosen the soil to facilitate easy penetration of water. Treat the soil with insecticides and fungicides to control disease outbreaks on your crops. This will help curb the activities of pests on the watermelon plant.
2. Seed Selection and Seed Planting
Watermelon has a variety of seeds in the market. Some of these seeds include moon and star, royal sweet, black diamond, all sweet, crimson sweet, jubilee, etc. Planting seeds from the previous watermelon is not encouraged because, it tends to be more susceptible to diseases, produces low yield, and has reduced sweetness.
Therefore, get your seeds from the market or agricultural organizations such as FADAMA, IITA, etc.
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To boost seed growth and proficiency, treat selected seeds with fungicides to curb fungal infections. Soak them in warm water for 12 to 15 hours, drain seeds, and put them in a bag overnight to ensure healthy watermelon farming and profitable result.
Do not plant watermelon seeds in the morning. Plant seeds when the soil temperature is warm to facilitate rapid germination.
Also, plant 2 to 3 seeds per hole about 1 inch deep and cover with loose soil. Ensure you space plants about 4feet apart within rows and about 7feet apart between rows to avoid vines being overcrowded.
4. Caring for watermelon farming
Essential measures should be taken to facilitate the optimal growth of watermelon. It is of great necessity to thin watermelon to avoid the unhealthy overcrowdedness of plants. Water seeds twice a week if there is no rainfall.
When seeds begin to sprout, reduce the frequency of watering to once in 10 days. When the vines begin to spread out, stop watering at this juncture.
This will help sugar content in the fruit concentrate and make the epicarp stay crispy. Thereby, leading to sweet, reddish watermelon fruit being produced.
Also, put barriers like straw in between watermelon and the ground to prevent fruits from making direct contact with the soil.
This will help reduce the risk of rot and diseases attack that may arise from contact with soil.
Nitrogen-based fertilizer or compost manure should be applied on your farm to ensure healthy watermelon farming and to increase and facilitate growth.
Once your watermelon starts flowering, reduce the use of nitrogen-based fertilizer, and increase the use of phosphorus and potassium-based fertilizers. This will help you get the best out of your crop.
5. Weed Control for an adequate Watermelon Farming
Remove unwanted plants to prevent unhealthy competition for limited resources such as space, water, nutrients, and lots more with your watermelon plant.
This can be done mechanically with hoes/cutlass or chemically via the use of the herbicide.
This exercise should be carried out about 2-3weeks after seedlings begin to sprout to aid a successful watermelon farming.
6. Pests and Diseases Control for a successful watermelon farming
Watermelon is affected by lots of pests such as melon worms, beetles, leaf miners, thrips, spiders, maggots, mites and lost more.
Of all these pests, watermelon is mostly affected by mites and spiders. They feed on watermelon sap causing the vines to lacerate within a short period.
Spraying of methomyl, acetamiprid, deltamethrin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam, or lambda-cyhalothrin is recommended to control these pests.
To also avoid diseases like fusarium wilt, powdery mildew, mosaic virus, and lots more, it is recommended to; bury old plant residue in the soil, avoid overcrowding amongst plants, expose plants to adequate sunlight and avoid the use of overhead irrigation methods.
Here are a few tips to determine if your watermelon is ready for harvest or not.
Check the color of the spot that was in contact with the ground. If the color of the spot is cream or yellow, it means your watermelon is ready for harvest.
But, a white color at that spot signifies your watermelon isn’t ready for harvest. In addition, examine the color at the top of your watermelon.
If there is a little contrast between the stripes, it signifies it is ready for harvest. Also, if the spiral coil near the stem of the watermelon is dried up, the harvest is ready. When harvesting, cut watermelon stems (few inches to the fruit) with a sharp knife and store them in a cool dry place.
8. Sorting and Marketing
After harvesting, watermelons are sorted based on their sizes, weight, and nature of epicarp. Watermelons with scars on their outermost layer are separated from those devoid of scars.
Sorting will help determine the price range of watermelon. After sorting, you send your product to the market or look for potential buyers.
Watermelon lasts about 3 weeks. Therefore, within this period store your watermelon in a cool dry place.
We hope this was helpful!