Easy guide to farming watermelons in Kenya

Melons are commonly direct seeded, except under conditions where the growing season is short, whereby transplants raised in containers are used.

For the direct seeded, the planting depth is about 2cm and between row spacing is 1.5-1.8m, while the intra-row spacing is 30-60cm.

Fertiliser 

Application of nitrogenous fertilisers is based on soil type. Soils with high organic matter require 80kg N/ha, while light soils require 140kg N/ha.

The nitrogenous fertiliser should be applied and incorporated into the soil at planting time. Phosphorus and potassium applications are based on soil tests, and both should also be applied at the time of planting.

Depending on the environmental conditions, 450-600mm of water is required within a growing season.

Weed control 

Weeds should be adequately controlled, especially when the melon plants are young. Weeds which grow upright offer greater competition by shading the melon plants.

Weed control can be achieved by application of black plastic mulches, cultivation, and use of herbicides.

Diseases and insect pests 

Melons suffer most of the diseases and insect pests that attack other cucurbits. Diseases such as powdery mildew, downy mildew, alternaria leaf spot, anthracnose, and fusarium wilt cause problems under certain conditions.

Insect pests such as cucumber beetle, which is a vector for bacterial wilt, aphids, flea beetles, and melon worms too cause problems.

Harvesting 

Watermelon is ready for harvest in about three to four months. Maturity is indicated when the fruit gives off a hollow sound when tapped with knuckles.

The fruit stem should be cut with a sharp knife rather than broken by hand.

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