How to become successful in watermelon farming
In the agribusiness industry, watermelon farming is one of the most profitable, not capital intensive, yet very rewarding but to be successful in farming watermelon, you need to acquire the right knowledge on how to plant watermelon.
Growing watermelon is easy but, it is also easy for you to lose all your investment if you lack the right knowledge on how to plant watermelon.
This is more reason you need guidance in watermelon planting but not to worry.
This complete step by step watermelon farming guide will provide you with everything you need to learn about growing watermelon.
At the end of this step-by-step guide, you will be equipped with all the necessary knowledge you need, to become a successful watermelon farmer.
You will learn about the characters of watermelon and when to plant watermelon for optimum profit-making; this will be of great importance in understanding the growing demand of watermelon.
You will learn the type of soil needed for planting watermelon and how to prepare the soil for your farm.
Also, you will learn how to convert soil that is unstable for watermelon farming to suitable soil for farming watermelon.
You will also learn the best varieties of watermelon for profitable farming, how and where to get your desired variety.
How to manage your watermelon farm, how to control weed, best fertilizer for watermelon and best method of applying fertilizer in your watermelon farm.
Your bonus will be tips on how to market, sell and make a bigger profit from watermelon farming.
Note: This is going to be a comprehensive guide, therefore, take your time and read till the end, I assure you, you will be proud you did.
You can also share your view and give thumbs up in the comment section at the end of the post.
Is watermelon farming profitable?
Watermelon farming is very profitable, not capital intensive yet very rewarding. Here is a little calculation to back our claims up.
You can start your farm (say one hectare) with #100,000.
Here is what you need
- Land (One hectare)
- Running cash
One hectare of land using a planting distance of 1.2 meters, can contain about 5500 to 6800 plants of watermelon.
Note that one plant of watermelon can produce one to three balls of watermelon, this means that;
From one hectare of land, which bears over 6000 plants you can expect no less than 7000 balls of watermelon at least.
Remember you can have more if you manage your farm optimally.
Let’s assume you had a bad yield, only 6000 balls were harvested.
A ball of watermelon goes from #300 to #500 in the market depending on the size.
6000×300 = #1,800,000.
That’s One million eight hundred thousand naira on a One hundred thousand naira investment.
That’s how profitable watermelon farming is, you can imagine growing bigger farm.
Here is how to plant watermelon to get a high yield,
How to plant watermelon
To plant watermelon, first
- Select a suitable site
- Prepare the Land for watermelon cultivation
- Select the best variety of watermelon
- Irrigate the young plants.
- Control Weed
- Apply Fertilizer in the farm
- Maintain and Care for your watermelon plants and fruits.
- Ensure disease and Pest control
- Harvesting your watermelon
- Carefully store your watermelon
- Market and sell your watermelon
Step 1: Select a suitable site
The first step you will take in your watermelon cultivation is to select a good site for your farm.
It is important to note that not all soils are good for watermelon farming.
While most soils possess a good amount of nutrient, they still may not be good for watermelon farming.
Selecting a suitable watermelon planting site is a good step towards making your crops productive.
A good site for the cultivation of watermelon must possess the following qualities.
- The soil topography should be flat and not sloppy
1.The soil should be Sandy Loam: The best soil for watermelon planting is sandy loamy soil, this is because sandy loamy soil contains the following.
2. Low water-holding capacity: Sandy-loamy soils contain moderate water holding capacity, this is because it allows for the movement of water in and out of the soil and therefore does not encourage waterlogging.
3. A good amount of organic matter: Sandy-loamy soil contains a good amount of organic matter; this is needed by watermelon for nourishment.
4.Rich organic minerals: Sandy-loamy soil is rich in organic minerals.
5. Lack of toxic chemical substances: Due to the presence of organic matter in the soil, sandy loam soils have very low or no toxic chemical substances.
- Ensure that the soil is well-drained and is situated in a place where it gets access to direct sunlight.
- The pH of the soil should be slightly acidic or close to neutral, watermelon enjoys soil with a pH range of 5.8 to7.2.
- Watermelon is sensitive to salinity; therefore, the salinity (salt content of the soil) of the soil should be kept moderate for optimal production.
Watermelon grows best in non-saline soils.
- If you want to grow watermelon during the colder times, you must have to grow the plant indoors before exposing them to the outdoor Or you grow short-season varieties
Kindly note the following temperature requirements for watermelon farming.
Temperature requirement for watermelon farming
The temperature requirement for watermelon germination is between 27°C -32°C, with night temperature expected not to be lower than 24.
The optimum growth temperature at night is 18°C -20°C, during the day is 24°C -30°C and for ripening, you have 15°C -25°C.
Step 2: Prepare the Land for watermelon cultivation
Preparation of land for watermelon cultivation involves segments of activities aimed at getting the land ready for planting.
It involves clearing and cutting of already existing trees and grasses, tilling of the soil.
The following steps should be followed when preparing the land for the planting of your watermelon seed.
- Cut down already existing trees, grasses, shrubs, remove big stones, and other plant debris.
- This will expose the land to the sun for proper aeration
- Assemble the trees, grasses and shrubs that you have cut, burn them and allow the ash to dissolve into the soil, they serve as manure to the plant.
- In a situation where you can’t burn them, bundle them and take them out of the land.
- Till the soil for aeration, you can use conservative tillage, this will assist in retaining the soil nutrient at the top layers of the soil
- You can as well plough the land especially if the soil is of clay content, this will loosen the soil for root penetration.
- Treat the soil with chemicals to eliminate pathogens and organisms capable of causing harm to your plants
- Detoxicate the land: Watermelon is known to be sensitive to manganese toxicity, watermelons Seedling react to manganese toxicity with stunted growth and yellowish, crinkled leaves.
- Apply preemergence herbicides to prevent weed growth.
Presence of weed can affect the productivity of watermelon because they grow a few meters away from the soil.
Once done with preparing the land, its time to source for your watermelon seed.
Step 3: Select the best variety of watermelon
The performance of your crop is greatly affected by the variety you choose to plant.
It is important that you choose the right variety because not all varieties perform well in all environment and under all conditions
Selecting the best watermelon variety is the most important decision any intending watermelon farmer will make.
Here is what to look out for in a variety before selecting it
- It must be suitable for the available market.
Planting a variety that is not suited for the available market and the particular production situation leads to lower profits or possibly crop failure.
- It must be adaptable.
In addition to market acceptability, a variety must have acceptable yield and be adapted to the production area.
- It must be disease resistant.
Aside from being adaptable, the choice variety should have the highest level of needed pest resistance available.
This will limit pest and disease attack on your plants.
How to source for watermelon planting seed
As earlier stated, there are over 1200 varieties of watermelon, you can get your seed from local shops, trusted agents or even government, and sometimes NGOs.
Wherever you get your seeds from, you should do well to ascertain if they possess the above qualities
- Must have high pest-resistant ability
- It must be adaptable
- Finally, it must be acceptable in the available market.
Do not plant seeds gotten from a consumed watermelon, they are susceptible to disease and will likely not produce sweet watermelon fruits.
Best species of watermelon for profitable watermelon farming
Here are the best species of watermelon to choose from
- Congo watermelon
- Black Diamond watermelon
- Moon & Stars watermelon
- All Sweet watermelon
- Royal Sweet watermelon
- Crimson Sweet watermelon
- Jubilee watermelon
There are other popular varieties, it all depends on your location and available market demand.
How to treat your watermelon seed before planting
After getting your seeds, here is how to treat your watermelon seeds before planting.
- Treat the seeds with pesticides or fungicide to protect them from disease-causing organisms.
- Spread the seeds on a mat under the sun
- Mix the fungicides with water or whatever solvent as directed by the seller.
- Spray the mixture on the seeds
- Turn the seeds as you spray to get every part of the seeds.
- Allow the seeds to dry before taking them inside.
After treating the fungicides
- Soak the seeds in water for 10 to 15 hours remove the seeds and put them in a bag overnight.
- Plant the seeds the next day.
- Ensure you do not plant your watermelon seeds early in the season.
- Plant only when the temperature warm enough between 27°C -32°C
How to plant your watermelon seed
The right way to plant your watermelon seed is by putting 2-3 seeds in a shallow hole normally 1 inch deep, and then shallowly close the hole with loose soil.
Watermelon plant Spacing
The spacing between plants and rows should be between 0.6×0.9 t 1.8×2.4m. Or, Simply allow a space of 7 to 9 feet between each plant to allow the vine enough space to spread when the plants start growing.
For the nursery, Watermelon should be transplanted into the field after all dangers of frost has passed and when the soil temperature is at least 15°C but better between 24°C -30°C.
Transplants can be planted with a tractor-pulled machine or by hand.
When to plant watermelon
During early planting, Watermelons are mostly planted between June and August, in rainfall areas, it is planted between September and October through November.
After germination, thin the crop to 2-3 stands to reduce competition between plants.
Step 4: Irrigate the young plants.
Watermelon is heat-loving crop and therefore is mostly planted when there is little or no rainfall.
You have to water the seeds at least once and at most twice every week for the first three weeks of planting.
This will ensure that the seeds get a good amount of water for sprouting.
Once the vines start sprouting, reduce the rate of water application to once a week, this is to increase the sugar content of the fruit.
If you continue to water the plant while vines have started sprouting, the fruit may become watery and lack sugar content.
Once the fruit starts getting large, you need to stop watering it. Below is a video showing how watermelon grow
Step 5: Control Weed
Weed control is very important, it starts with choosing the right site and preparing the land well enough.
Weed pose big competition for watermelon because they grow few meters off ground level.
You can control weed using chemicals, manual methods, avoid mechanical method, it can cause harm to the plants.
Step 6: Apply Fertilizer in the farm
Watermelon enjoy organic manure and fertilizers, before planting, apply organic manure to the soil after tilling the soil. They will decompose into the soil with time, adding more nutrient to the soil.
Fertilizers should be applied two to three weeks after planting, by this time, sprouting must have taken place.
Apply Nitrogen-based fertilizer, 2-3 weeks of planting, once the plants start flowering, switch to Phosphorus and potassium-based fertilizers to maintain the fruit.
Supply the plants as many nutrients as needed for optimal production.
You must protect the plants from weed, supply them with a good amount of nutrient in a controlled manner till they mature.
Watermelon grows to maturity within 85 – 90 days, that’s three months after planting, and the yield varies from five to 72 t/ha, once mature, watermelon is harvest-ready.
Step 7: Maintain and Care for your watermelon plants and fruits.
Watermelon is a crawling crop; therefore, the fruit develops resting on the soil unless supported.
Allowing the fruit to grow on the soil is not ideal for your watermelon.
You need to support the fruit by creating a barrier between the fruit and the soil.
Dry straw or planks can be used to create a bridge preventing the fruit from resting on the soil.
Step 8: Ensure disease and Pest control
Watermelon has a sweet taste that appeals to many harmful pests.
Despite its tough outer shell surrounding watermelon, many different insects damage the fruit while they are still on the Vine.
Be aware of pests that eat watermelon plants to protect your crop.
List of Pest of watermelon
Cucumber beetles: Cucumber beetles are a deadly enemy to watermelons.
Adult cucumber beetles eat young watermelon plants while the larvae eat roots underground.
When many cucumber beetles are present on your farm, they may kill watermelon plants.
The beetles may even dig down into garden soil to find newly growing sprouts.
Aphids: Aphids dark blue-green insects suck the juices out of watermelon leaves.
After being attacked by Aphids the leaf curls downward and plants do not curl large or healthy.
Aphids also spread viral diseases to watermelon which may further harm your farm.
Whiteflies: Three different species of whitefly, sweet potato greenhouse, and Silverleaf effect watermelons.
Whiteflies reproduce quickly and move to many different types of plants, flowers and vegetables.
The insects remove plants sap from watermelons and feed on the nutrients the plant requires to survive.
Whiteflies may also spread viral diseases which could kill your entire watermelon crop.
Mites: Mites are insects that leave yellow spots on watermelon foliage.
When plants are heavily infested, fruit growth may be stunted. Mites eat the undersides of leaves and suck at the sap inside the watermelons.
The plant will begin to turn yellow then brown as feeding continues.
The foliage may wilt away and die entirely.
Mites will leave a silky web-like material behind on plants and flourish under hot and dry garden conditions
How to control pest in watermelon farming
You can control these pests by spraying pesticides such as Deltamethrin, Imidacloprid, Methomyl Acetamiprid etc.
Spraying must be done according to instructions given in the pesticides label.
Precaution to be taken to prevent diseases in watermelon farming
- Prepare the land well by completely removing unwanted old plant residues.
- Observe good spacing when planting.
- Control weed as earlier as possible; weed is a major source of pest and diseases in watermelon.
- Apply pesticides and insecticides earlier, this will make the farm unsafe for the pest and insect capable of infecting the crop.
Step 9: Harvesting your watermelon
Understanding the right time to harvest your watermelon is an important commodity in maintaining the sweetness of your watermelon.
If you harvest your watermelons to soon, it won’t be as sweet as suppose, the same way, if you harvest it late, it’s sweetness reduces.
So, when do you harvest your watermelon?
When to harvest watermelon
This is how to know when to harvest your watermelon
Thumping the fruit with your knuckles is not the best way to check if the plant has ripped if you want to check if the fruit has ripped.
Check the vine, if the vine has turned brown and is observed to be drying, then check the underside of the fruit, if the colour is a slightly pale yellow, it has ripped.
But if the colour is white, it means that the watermelon is not ripe and therefore not ready for harvest.
Another way to check if the watermelon is ripped for harvest is to check the spiral coil near the stem.
If it appears half-dead, then the watermelon is almost ripe or ripe, you can then confirm your doubt by checking the colour of the vine and the underside of the fruit as stated above.
How to harvest watermelon
To harvest watermelon, cut off the stem just very close to the fruit.
Be careful to not cut parts of the fruit as this will affect its market value.
Sorting your watermelon
This is one of the last activities to carry out before taking your fruits to the market.
Sorting is done based on the size and weight of the fruit.
The smallest ones should be grouped on the same side, middle-sized fruits should take to another side, while the larger sized fruits stay together on the same group.
Don’t forget that even faulty fruits can be sold, faulty in the fruit can be as a result of fruits falling from the straw on which bridged it from the soil.
Improper harvesting or mistake during harvesting.
Step 10: Carefully store your watermelon
A guide on how to plant watermelon is not complete without one talking about how to store your watermelon.
This is because understanding how to store your watermelon is important in getting it fit for the market.
A poorly stored watermelon will face challenges before it is sold.
So, for you to complete the how to plant watermelon journey, you have to understand how to store your watermelon
How to efficiently store your watermelon
Depending on the variety of watermelon you planted, allowing your fruits in the store stage shouldn’t last longer than three or four weeks, this is to avoid wastage.
Do not store an injured watermelon fruit far too long, cover the injury and store in a refrigerator.
You must not leave the watermelon far too long, the cooling effect from the refrigerator will increase moist around the watermelon thereby rotting the fruit.
Store your watermelons in a bag and be ready to take them to the market as fast as you can.
Don’t forget, watermelon is a heating-loving plant and therefore should not be stored in a cool environment for a long period.
Step 11: Market and sell your watermelon
To successfully sell and make a profit from watermelon farming, you must understand who your buyers are and how best to locate them.
Where to sell watermelon in Nigeria
If you planted in large quantity, your buyers include store owners such as grocery store owners
Others include restaurants, hotels, pharmaceutical companies; they use watermelon extracts as raw materials for supplement production.
You can also sell to retailers, wholesalers and roadside sellers and directly to consumers.
Price of watermelon in Nigeria
A ball of watermelon sells for #300-#400, in the urban areas, a ball of watermelon sells for #400 -#600 and even #700 in some cases.
The price largely depends on the size, how healthy the watermelon looks and location; that is where you are selling the watermelon.
That’s it, CONGRATULATIONS if you read from the beginning of this post till this point, you deserve a bottle of wine.
As you can see, watermelon farming is a very lucrative business, not very capital-intensive but still highly rewarding.
The good part is that it doesn’t take lots of capital to start, it is not too task-demanding and its gestation period is very short.
The demand for watermelon is also increasing on daily basis, this is why you should invest in watermelon farming. It is of course very rewarding.
But you must note that, even though growing watermelon is easy, you must first learn how to plant watermelon.
Understanding how to plant watermelon the right way is your first and biggest advantage in making a wonderful profit from watermelon farming.
So, to succeed in watermelon farming, it is most advisable that you first learn how to plant watermelon.
You can get good training from a nearby farmer, understand every aspect of watermelon farming and how best to grow watermelon.
Its been a long journey so far, I hope you enjoyed it, let us know what you think about this post in the comment box below.
You can also add your view on the comment box, of course, we keep updating our posts and your view will help us do so.