Water Melon

INTRODUCTION

Watermelon usually locally referred as Tikiti maji (Swahili) is indigenous to the dry plains of tropical and subtropical Africa. It is one of the most widely cultivated crops in the world with a global consumption greater than any other cucurbits. Watermelons range in shape from round to oblong or even square (Japan). Rind colour of watermelons can be light to dark green with or without stripes. Flesh colour can be red, dark red or yellow.

PRODUCTION

Varieties Charleston Gray, Congo, Crimson Sweet, Orangeglo, Sugar Baby, Sunday Special.
Seed Rate 3 kg/ha
Fertilizer Rate 10 tons per ha of manure
Planting Spacing 1m between plants and 2m between rows.
Husbandry Watermelon is propagated by directly planting seeds or event transplanting. Watermelons like fertile soils high in organic matter. Watermelons produce separate male and female flowers hence adequate population of pollinating insects (bees) are present every day during the flowering period. Weeding should be done regularly to keep the field clean. Remove misshapen and blossom-end rot affected fruit. Watermelons can be rotated with cereals, legumes or cabbages.
Pest & Diseases Pest Name Symptoms Control
Aphids The bugs are visible on the plant. Use insecticides
Powdery mildew Whitish talcum-like powdery growth on upper leaf surface Spray with sulphur based fungicides.
Maturity Duration 3 – 4 Months
Climatic Conditions Watermelons can grow at altitudes of up to 1500 m. They do well at temperatures of between 22 and 28 C. Optimum rainfall is 600 mm and 400 mm. Watermelons grow best on sandy loam soils which are well drained and slightly acid. Watermelon is fairly tolerant to soil pH as low as 5.5.
Harvesting Harvesting usually begins 3-4 months after planting. The watermelon stem should be cut rather than pulled from the vine to avoid damage to the stem end. Maturity indicators includea dull hollow sound when the fruit is tapped with the knuckles, the change from white to cream or pale yellow of the skin area where the melon has been resting on the soil, shrivelling of tendrils on nodes to which melons are attached or slight ribbing on surface of fruit.
Post Harvest and Storage Ensure minimum handling of melons, as extra handling is expensive and may harm the fruits. Watermelons do not store well as they are susceptible to chilling injury, and are subject to decay at higher temperatures. Under the ideal conditions of 70C and a relative humidity of 80 to 90 % melons can be stored for up to two weeks.
Growing Regions Central, Eastern and western
Expected yields 40-70 tons/ha

PROCESSING

Processing Pressed into Water Melon Juice and also fermented to Wine

MARKETING

Place Mostly sold locally.
Price Kshs. 30 – 45 per kg

CONSUMPTION

Products and Uses Eaten as fruit, in Puddings.Water Melon Juice and Wine
Nutritional value – per 100 g / % Daily Values A watermelon contains about 6% sugar and 92% water by weight. Watermelons contain citrulline, relax blood vessels; lycopene, cancer reduction and beta carotene.

FACTS & FIGURES

Watermelon accounts for 6.8% of the world area devoted to vegetable production with China and Turkey having the largest area devoted to watermelon production.Water melons can glow to a weight of 20 kgs per piece.

BUSINESS CASE

Income Per Hectare: Kshs 1,200,000 (40,000kgs * 30/-)Cost per Hectare: Kshs. 480,000 (40% of Income).

NET:    Kshs. 720,000 (60% of Income).

Break Even Yield (Where Cost=Income): = 16,000 kgs per hectare.

Income Frequency: Twice per year. Thrice under irrigation.