Welcome to our guide on growing watermelons for profit! Watermelons are a popular and delicious summer fruit that can also be a profitable crop for farmers and backyard gardeners alike. In this post, we’ll cover the basics of growing watermelons, including selecting the right variety, preparing the soil, and tips for a successful harvest. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting started, we’ll share our best tips and tricks for growing watermelons for profitability. So let’s get started!
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Overview of Watermelon:
Watermelon, scientifically known as Citrullus lanatus, is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. It is a vine-like plant that is widely cultivated for its large, edible fruit. The fruit, which is botanically referred to as a pepo, is a berry with a hard rind and no internal divisions. It is typically deep red to pink in color and contains many black seeds, although seedless varieties also exist. The fruit can be eaten raw or pickled, and the rind is edible after cooking. It is also commonly consumed as juice or in mixed beverages. The closest relative of watermelon is the Kordofan melon from Sudan, which may have been the ancestor of modern cultivated watermelons. Watermelons were domesticated in northeastern Africa and cultivated in Egypt as early as 2000 BC, but they were not as sweet as the modern variety. Sweet dessert watermelons spread throughout the Mediterranean world during Roman times. Today, the considerable breeding effort has produced disease-resistant varieties, with some cultivars producing mature fruit within 100 days of planting. In 2017, China produced about two-thirds of the world’s watermelon crop. (Source: Wikipedia )
Seed and Seedling Requirement For Growing Watermelons on Profit:
An acre requires only 150 grams of seed. 4200 seedlings are required for an acre of the land. Before preparing the land, seedlings should be prepared in polythene bags. 10% more seedlings should be produced to avoid risk.
Seedling Preparation Method:
To produce seedlings, the seeds should be soaked in water for 4-6 hours in the evening. After draining the water, dry the seeds and keep them in a cotton cloth, fold them and wrap them again in a chat sack. The bag of chaat with seeds should be kept in the sun for 30-45 hours. Sprinkling water in the chaat bag should make it wet from time to time. During this time, the seeds kept in the sack will germinate. It is better to plant seedlings in polybags or plastic cup trays. But now many people are using plastic trays due to various benefits and low cost. 100 seedlings can be produced in one tray. The advantage of this tray is that it can be moved anywhere at any time, is easily protected from rain, and can be used repeatedly.
The polybag should be filled with soil mixed with cow dung to put the germinated seeds in the polybag. Motives should clear and level the polybags in a sunny area and make a bed for the seedbed by taking a 1-meter wide area and surrounding it with bamboo mats. This bed can be made by burying four small bamboo poles around it and sometimes a few more sticks and tying a bamboo mat to it. The height of the mat around the bed can be 4-6 inches or 10-15 cm from the ground. These problems are necessary for just four pieces of bamboo to be made into a polybag blocking work or a bed.
The germinated seeds should be taken out from the mat and sown one by one in polybag soil at a shallow depth. Before sowing, a small hole should be made in the center of each polybag with a stick. Before sowing the seeds in polybags, mixing a little dry humus with the germinated seeds will help in sowing the seeds. The seeds should be sown in the soil with the sprouts facing downwards. Then cover it with soil. After sowing the seeds in the polybag, water should be lightly sprinkled from above with a sieve. To prevent heavy rains from damaging the seedlings, a polythene canopy should be provided over the seed beds or beds with bamboo planks like boat hulls. This canopy will protect the seedlings from rain or intense sun.
You can be growing watermelons for profit very easily with the three methods discussed below…
From Grafted Seedlings:
Growing watermelons using grafted seedlings are becoming increasingly popular among growers. Grafting involves combining parts of two separate plants to create one plant with the benefits of both. The upper portion, known as the scion, is placed on the root system of the second plant, called the rootstock. This results in a plant that has the best traits of both components. Some growers choose to grow both the rootstock and scion from seed and perform the grafting themselves, while others purchase certified grafted seedlings from reputable sellers. The most common seedlings used currently are watermelon scions grafted onto squash rootstocks.
From Non-Grafted Seedlings
Growing watermelons from non-grafted seedlings is a popular alternative to grafted seedlings. Careful variety selection is key when using this method, as different varieties have varying levels of tolerance to local growing conditions such as disease, pests, pH levels, and soil salinity. Some of the most commonly used varieties for non-grafted watermelon cultivation include Black Baby, Black Prince, Black Box, Charleston Gray, Crimson Sweet, Jubilee, All sweet, Royal Sweet, Sangria, Triploid seedless, and Black Diamond types.
Growing watermelons from seed can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to be aware of the specific requirements for successful germination. Watermelons are a long-period crop, taking an average of 90 to 120 days from seeding to harvesting. To begin, watermelon seeds require a soil temperature of at least 18-20 °C in order to germinate. Proper moisture levels are also crucial for sprouting, but over-irrigation can be harmful. Some growers will water the soil thoroughly a day before sowing and then refrain from watering again until the seed sprouts. However, this technique may not work well in sandy soils that have difficulty retaining enough water. Watermelon seeds typically germinate within 6-11 days, depending on weather and soil conditions. In areas with a risk of frost, growers may opt to start the seeds in seed beds under controlled conditions before transplanting them to their final positions. They often use turf as the substrate for optimal aeration.
Land And Bed Preparation For Growing Watermelons on Profit:
Watermelons require well-drained, sandy loam soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0 for growing. The soil should be rich in organic matter, as well as have a high level of potassium and phosphorus. Before planting, it is important to prepare the soil by incorporating compost or well-rotted manure to improve fertility. Additionally, it is recommended to conduct a soil test to ensure that the soil has the proper nutrient levels. To ensure proper drainage, raised beds can be used, or the soil can be mounded up to improve drainage in low-lying areas. It is also important to make sure that the soil is warm, with a temperature of at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit, before planting watermelon seedlings or seeds.
Beds should be made for planting seedlings on the land. Long beds should be made 50-60 cm wide from the surrounding aisles. Beds can be made in double rows. In this method first, a bed of 60 cm in width should be made, then 2.5 meters of space should be left empty. Then another 60 cm wide bed should be made. In this way, two pairs of beds will be created side by side with 60 cm space between them, which will be used for irrigation and maintenance movement. The loft will be built in a space of two and a half meters. The bed should be raised by lifting the soil in the space between the two beds and transferring it to the adjacent bed. Some are now profiting by growing perennial watermelons even in low paddy fields.
Fertilizer Application For growing Watermelons:
Vermicompost is good for growing perennial melons. One acre of the land will require fertilizers – Vermicompost 600 kg, Urea 120 kg, TSP 120 kg, MOP 120 kg, Gypsum 60 kg, Zinc Sulphate 3 kg, and Boron fertilizer 4.5 kg. All fertilizers should be mixed with the bed soil during bed preparation.
How To Use Mulching For Growing Watermelons on Profit?
Mulching with black-colored polythene sheets is required to cover the beds for perennial watermelon cultivation. A polythene roll of 33 kg is required for an acre of land. Polythene rolls are 3 feet or 1 meter wide. Laying of mulching sheets or polythene requires special skills. Start laying the mulching sheet on one side of the bed. If a thin bamboo or pipe is inserted between the rolls, it is convenient to pull the roll. It is better to have 3-4 people spread the mulching sheets. Two people will pull the roll, after laying one or two sheets, lift the soil from both sides of the bed and press the polythene side against the bed. At the end from which the mulching sheet should be laid, the edge of the sheet should be slightly out of the bed and covered with soil. The ends can also be tied to two bamboo poles for ease of pulling. Poles can be removed after compacting the soil and laying a polythene sheet on the bed. After placing the mulching sheet, the land should be thoroughly soaked with irrigation.
After 7-8 days of irrigation, when the soil becomes ‘jo’, the work of planting seedlings should be started. 10 cm or 4-inch diameter round hole should be made along the center of the bed or polythene mulching sheet at a certain distance before planting the seedlings. If you want to do this easily and in less time, with less labor, you can do this with a piece of 4-inch diameter PVC pipe, 6-8 inches long. If this piece of pipe is pressed and twisted in a certain place, the polythene will be cut round. A small hole should be made in the soil of the cut space to plant the seedlings. The distance from one hole to another will be 45 cm or 18 inches. Cut polythene pieces should be collected from the ground and burnt, not kept inside the ground.
5-7 days old seedlings should be planted in the land. Before planting seedlings should be checked to whether there is juice in the polybag soil. If not, the soil should be lightly soaked shortly before planting. Seedlings can be removed from the polybag by cutting the polybag with a blade or pressing the tip under the polybag. After planting the saplings, the root of the saplings should be lightly irrigated with a sieve. It is better to plant seedlings in the afternoon.
Water Requirments And Irrigation System For Growing Watermelons on Profit:
The total water requirements for a watermelon plant throughout its growth period can range from 400mm to 600mm, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). However, the actual amount of water needed may vary depending on weather and soil conditions. For instance, heavy clay soils typically require less irrigation than sandy soils. High humidity or rainy weather may negate the need for irrigation altogether, whereas dry, hot days may require daily irrigation.
Many Mediterranean watermelon growers, such as those in Greece, will initially irrigate for 20-25 minutes per day during the early stages of growth. As the temperature increases and the plant enters the fruit-setting stage, irrigation is increased to meet the plant’s increased needs. In the final stages of maturity, irrigation is greatly reduced to prevent the cracking of the fruit. In the USA, commercial watermelon producers typically provide 25mm of water per week. They often prefer to water their crops early in the morning during the early stages and late in the evening as the temperature rises.
Watermelons have high water requirements, but it’s important to avoid watering the foliage as it can lead to disease outbreaks. Excess humidity can also promote the growth of pathogens such as powdery mildew. Conversely, water-stressed plants are more susceptible to disease. The most common irrigation method used is drip irrigation.
Making a Loft:
A loft should be made using bamboo and nylon rope or GI wire in the space between the two beds. A loft can be made like the roof of a double house or the roof of a boat. It helps to lift the plants from the beds on both sides. First, make a bamboo structure and pull the wire or rope on the frames at a distance of 20 cm or 8 inches. Then the nylon net should be spread.
A total of three times should be trimmed. it’s a very important part of successfully growing watermelons for profit. Pruning should be done for the first time at the time of giving the seedlings to the loft. Keeping two buds with the main plant, the rest should be pruned from the root. The second pruning should be done 5-7 days after the first pruning. At this time, the Kushi (Climber) hanging under the net in the loft should be cut. After 5-7 days, the buds hanging under the net should be trimmed in the same way.
Watermelon plants are attacked by various diseases and insects. Among them, anthracnose or dry rot, wilting, gum drop, etc. are the main harmful diseases. Apart from this, insects such as fruit flies, red spiders, white flies, thrips, red pumpkin beetles, epilating beetles or thorn bugs, and jab beetles attack. These diseases and pests should be controlled with appropriate measures. Sex pheromone traps can be used to control fruit fly pests.
Netting For Safety Purposes:
When the fruit starts to grow, if it is not tied to the net, it can be torn and damaged. Therefore, the fruit should be tied with a net bag or net.
Watermelons are typically harvested 75-90 days after transplanting when a yellow spot appears on the skin and the tendril is dry. Not all watermelons mature at the same time, so multiple harvests may be necessary. Watermelons should be harvested by hand, being careful not to pull the fruit as this can cause cracking. A good yield for experienced farmers is 50-80 tons per hectare, with 1.5-2 full-size watermelons per plant on commercial farms. Once harvested, watermelons should be stored in cool, non-freezing conditions at a temperature of 10 °C (50 °F).
Growing watermelons for profit can be a successful endeavor with the right knowledge and practices. Proper timing of transplanting, monitoring for maturity signs, and gentle harvesting techniques can all contribute to a bountiful yield. Additionally, storing the watermelons in cool, non-freezing conditions can help to ensure that they are marketable and will bring a profit. With some experience, a yield of 50-80 tons per hectare can be achieved. By following these tips and tricks, farmers can look forward to a successful watermelon harvest.