Crop Farming Using Watermelon Seedlings
How to Get the Best Results from Crop Farming Using Watermelon SeedlingsThis article explores the many benefits of growing watermelons from seedlings and discusses the main factors to consider in the propagation of the plant. Newcomers to crop farming of watermelons from seedlings will benefit from the basic guidelines provided herein.
Popularity of the Plant
Watermelons fall within the Cucurbitaceae family of plants. Although they are a favourite for New Year’s Day celebrations, watermelons are popular throughout the summer season. The white rind part is often used for the making of jam while the pink flesh is consumed as is because of its sweetness. The plant’s fruit is known for its many health benefits and refreshing taste.
The hardy plants produce both female and male flowers. The female flowers are open for a single day during the propagation period, giving a short window for pollination. Farmers can ensure maximum pollination through the placement of beehives between the plants.
Benefits of Growing from Seedlings Buying seedlings from trusted and experienced bulk-supply nurseries gives the farmer the opportunity to start with disease-free and strong stock. This is important as the variety, health, vigour, and quality of the seedlings affect the yield outcome. The plugs from such nurseries are propagated in protected environments, ensuring the plants are pest and disease free.
Nurseries apply the initial chemical treatments to protect the plants in the early growth stages before delivering the plugs to the farmers. This gives the farmers time to prepare their chemical treatment programmes and means one less chemical application to apply. With such comes cost savings and reduced environmental impact.
The seedlings have uniform stand and features. This helps with crop management and to ensure better yield projection. Farmers benefit from the improved fruit size and harvesting time predictability.
Having strong stock to start with, the commercial farmer benefits from fewer plant losses during the early growth stages.
For best results from transplanting the seedlings to harvesting, the farmer should follow the planting guidelines as available from the bulk-supply nursery. See planting guidelines here. Read on for tips regarding the growth requirements.
Best Climate for Growth
Watermelon plants perform best in areas where the temperature falls in the range of between 18°C and 35°C.
Best Soil Conditions
The seedlings should preferably be transplanted to sandy or sandy loam soil, although the plants can grow in other soil types, with the exception of heavy clay soil types. The pH of the soil should be monitored to ensure it stays in the range of 5,8 to 6,6. If the pH drops to below 5,5, lime addition can be used to balance it.
Best Irrigation Practices
Deep irrigation is essential because of the deep rooting systems of the plants. Heavier, but less frequent watering is required just before fruiting. Once the fruiting stage is reached, the irrigation must be more frequent but light and should be stopped about a week before harvesting the fruits.
Soil preparation should be complete before the plugs are delivered. Deep preparation is essential to make provision for the deep rooting of these plants. This also helps to reduce the risk of soil borne diseases. Preparation should be done to cater for rooting to a depth of 400 mm to 500 mm. Weeds must be removed while the plugs are in their early growth stages. Mulching can be used to maintain soil temperature and to help with weed control. Stretch the plastic tightly to prevent stem burning as the result of contact with the plastic.
Water as deep as a metre since the seedling roots must be wet when transplanted. Make the hole, so that it is no more than one centimetre of the seedling height. This will ensure that the plug is deep enough, but not planted too deep. Proper soil firming around the stem is essential to remove air pockets around the roots.
Up to 15 000 watermelon plants can be planted on a hectare, cultivar dependent. Some varieties require more space, and the farmer can then expect fewer plants per hectare.
Ordering Watermelon Seedlings
Farmers interested in buying quality, disease-free grafted and conventional seedlings can do so from Hishtil SA for delivery right to their doorsteps. Contact us here for more information about the varieties, pricing, and ordering information.