How to cultivate Watermelon
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus)
As we know, watermelon is a very tasty fruit, which contains mostly water (90%), but also vitamins A,B,C, lycopene and antioxidants. It is a member of Cucurbitaceae family, in which squash, cucumber and pumpkin also belong.
Professional Cultivation of Watermelon
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) grows in vines with large crinkled leaves. It loves heat, and once established, it grows without too much attention. The watermelon needs at least 6 hours sunshine each day. It thrives in loamy, fertile, well-drained soil. It grows best in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.8
As it happens with most vegetables, professional cultivation of watermelon requires we sow the seeds in (individual) seed pots and then we transplant. If we sow watermelon seeds directly into the field, we will have very low germination (10-20%), and even the plants that will survive and grow, they will face severe competition from weeds.
We start the watermelon seedbed at the end of March or mid- April onwards. We need 17-35 oz. (500-1000 grams) of seeds per hectare. There are about 570 watermelon seeds per oz. (20 watermelon seeds per gram of seeds). The seeding temperature should be 60-86° F (20-30 ° C). We sow one watermelon seed per individual seed pot at a depth of 1,5 inch (4 cm) i.e. 150% of seed’s length. We water every day. The seeds germinate in about 7-10 days. About 30 days after the sowing, most of our plants are ready to be transplanted.
In general, we can plant about 5000 watermelon plants per hectare. We leave a distance of 70-80 inches (180-200 cm.) between rows and 35-60 inches (90-150 cm) between plants. We need to keep the soil moist around the plants during the growing season. We can add compost about 10 days after transplanting. This helps to prevent weeds, retains moisture and superheats the soil that is close to the new roots. When the flowers bloom, we reduce watering, and continue regular watering when they blossom. To increase the sweetness of the watermelon, we should not water for a week before harvest. Once harvested, we restore usual watering to promote and help the second crop. We are certain that watermelons are ready to be harvested when we hit them, and their noise sounds deep. The second sign is that the underside has turned from white to light yellow. Harvesting is about 75-90 days after transplanting and gives an average yield 70 – 80 tons per hectare.
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