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WATERMELON By Josphat Odhaimbo Seeds Lahat F1 (Amiran), Sukari F1 (recommended), Pata Negra and Sentinel (Seminis) 1.

1. Seed / seedling 2. Nursery management 3. Land preparation 4. Irrigation requirements 5. Fertilizer mix 6. Transplanting 7. Seedling boost / early management 8. Weeding 9. Nutrition 10. Bees and their importance 11. Vine training 12. Fruit tending 13. Pest and disease management 14. Harvesting

1. SEEDLINGS Advantage sure plant population - Ease of gap filling Nursery mix sieved loamy soil with ground NPK (powder form). 1 gm to 1 kg of soil and a bit of powder manure Plant in the seed trays (100 hole seed tray). When sowing in a seedtray hold the round edge with the sharp edge facing down. And push the sharp edge slightly (1cm) into the seedhole, not beyond 1 cm. cover lightly with soil. Mulch lightly and put in the open sun (melon seeds require warmth and moisture to germinate fast). Water twice a day. The seedlings sprout faster in warmer climates. (I will cover with that greenhouse polythene). On the fourth day they should sprout (yellow cotyledon leaves). At this stage, remove the mulch and expose them to the sun (day5).

(I can alternatively soak them in Supergro, when they are showing signs of sprouting, I transplant them)

2. NURSERY MANAGEMENT Spray DI Grow green to boost the seedlings immediately after germination (15 ml/ 20l water). Nursery should be clear of pests like caterpillars, cutworms, beetles.

3. LAND PREPARATION Good aerated tilth is the best deep plough, harrow, second plough then harrow. Make 100m long beds which are 2m wide with a pathway of 50 cm i.e. 40 beds per ha. Planting holes should be 1ft deep by 1 ft diameter, 60 cm apart on both edges of the bed. Target population 14,000 plants per ha. Drip irrigation use the 20cm spacing emitters. Spacing 2 m row to row and 60cm plant to plant. 4. IRRIGATION Drip irrigation

5. FERTILIZER

DAP mixed with slow-release fertilizer eg Agroblen 13:13:13 or NPK (Yara Winner) mixed in the ratio 1:1 and applied to the planting holes about 18 gms per hole and mixed well with the soil.

6. PLANTING / TRANSPLANTING If you are doing the seedlings, transplant on day 5 before the third leaf (true leaves) appear. An acre can take about 7,000 seedlings. Ensure that the planting hole is moist or liberally supplied with water. If planting directly from seed, hold the seed the round side up with the pointed side facing down. Push it slightly into the soil not beyond 2 cm. Cover lightly and water twice daily. Irrigate liberally until you achieve germination 6 to 7 days from planting. Spray against the cucumber beetle and crickets using Karate normal ratios preventatively. Spray DI grow green. Irrigate daily in the mornings and evenings. Weeding (hand weeding recommended) should be done early. You will have a bee-hive in the vicinity to prevent deformed fruits. Topdress with Nitrabor or CAN after 30 days.

7. DISEASE AND PEST MANAGEMENT Cutworms use Dursban, decis immediately after transplanting. Use Karate, Confidor WG70 (Bayer) melon fly, Actara, Attekan, Evisect Control melon fly, Fruit flies, caterpillars by using systemic pesticides

8. DISEASES Blights (early and late), gummy stem blight, rust, powdery mildew, cerscospora leaf spots main condition is warmth and moisture on leaf (do not irrigate on leaves). Use Mancozeb and Metalaxyl. Ridomil gold is both curative and preventative.

9. NUTRITION Use nitrogen foliar in the first week only the change to phosphorous for 7 to 8 weeks (alternate with calcium and trace elements) then finish with Potassium. - Agroleaf high N - Agroleaf High P - Agroleaf High K

Train the vines to run on the beds.

10. MATURITY OF THE WATERMELONS a) If it is about 75 to 90 days b) Warm climates check from day 67, cool climate check from day 85 c) Tap it to hear a hollow sound d) Cut the most mature one to confirm if it is ripe