Watermelon: Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Watermelon

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ASK ,WE SHALL ANSWER,AND IF ITS COMPLEX,WE SHALL LINK YOU


Agriculture is Dynamic….very dynamic.I still picture a recent scenario where a farmer visited a shop in Nakuru and was seeking to be given AMBUSH, scenes of farmers coming to the shops with notes from agronomist prescribing some chemicals eg Bayleton(which have since been replaced by a different molecule by Bayer crop science) have not escaped my eyes too.

These indicate that each and every person involved in the industry has to be updated by the emerging trends to remain relevant either in the market or in the farm!

Agroinfokenya prides itself of a goup of agronomist with experience in several fields  as well as experience of agricultural dynamics agross the different regions/areas in the country.

we therefore seek your support in ensuring we diseminate the information we have in conjunction with the challenges faced by the farmer to the public for knwledge growth by sending us an email to info@agroinfokenya.com>  with your questions,sugestions,advice or any relevant article you deem necesary for the general farmer domain.

kindly NOTE that agroinfokenya  does not accept any academic plagiarism ,thus any article from a member shall be duly acredited to him/her whereas any plagiarised material WIll NOT be published unless credit isgiven to the author.

if we dont have the full information you specifically need,we will link you to the people to answer

THE WATERMELON CHALLENGE-ACREAGE OR NUMBER OF PLANTS??

1g of watermelon seeds (the zebra type-F1) is estimated to have 10-12 seeds, hence a 500g tin will have approximatelly 6000 seeds. with a germination percentage of 80% ,one is bound to have 4800 plants on the farm.Normally,these number of plants are estimated to fit into a one acre piece of land.

The major Quetion herein is.

literally,if one has 4800 plants and manages to have only one fruit per plant with eah weighing 5kgs,then the yields per acre should be close /more than 24,000 kgs (24T)!!!!

in reality

99.9% of the medium to small scale farmers hardly attain more than 9,000kgs /acre. This then begs the question…….is it worth it to look at the acreage or it would be prudent to change and look at the number of plants as well as maximise the production per plant?

ENTER The watermelon challenge

What is the problem? why 4800 plants and 9T??

  • is it greed ,the need to make a “scale tag” name in the society?
  • Is it loss of focus?
  • is it lack of understanding of the agronomic principles
  • is it the seed varietied limited production potential vis-a vi the promised production
  • …………………………what is it???

ETEINA FARM HAS A WATERMELON CHALLENGE INNITIATIVE RUNNING

In collaboration with  farmers ready to have these questions answered,demistify the production promise and/or cement the trust and belief of the documented production potential,Eteina farm which specialises in seedling raising for farmers is running a challenge across the country .The farmers are to plant a specific number of seeds/plants  and later on analyse the production.

  • Every farmer is free to select the variety of his/her choice
  • the farmer is to document all the agronomic activities employed on the farm/crop /plot
  • The farmer ids to use his/her own production tricks ,with the major difference being -ATTENTION to the number of plants in the plot
  • the farmer is to seek from his/her agricultural consultants the best way he can have more yields with the stiulated number of plants
  • Harvesting of the fruits will be done in the presence of selected witneses especially if the farmers documentation signifies a high rate of production potential

All the proceses will be documented and shared on the official channel for the challenge where any interested member can join to follow up the challenge t.me/watermelonchallenge

At the end of the challenge,the results will be shared and the best analysed and discussed

The best program/seed will then be replicated in the forthcoming mega-demo site at Eteina farm where comparison will then be made

As agroinfokenya,we will follow the challenge close,visit some of the site and have the documented reports uploaded on our site for the farmers to access

we wish to have some of the observations in the following post addresed.https://agroinfokenya.com/site/2016/11/19/seed-type-selection-zebra-variety/

our team wishes the farmers in the challenge the best of production luck in having the best fruits

 

THE WATERMELON CHALLENGE……

THE WATERMELON CHALLENGE

For those in the challenge,and those following the progress

As we prepare to plant the seeds,some advise to ensure we get good fruits.

MAIN POINT:WATERMELON FEMALE FLOWERS ARE VIABLE FOR ONLY 1 DAY!

Mishapen fruit

This is a fruit disorder refered to ‘’mishapen fruit’’

Most of the farmers who experience the problem will have earlier on in the production program:

  • Either used  heavy chemicals eg class 1 in their crop protection programs especially at the criucial stage of plant flowering and fruiting-this detered  the pollinators from visiting the farm or killed the pollinators
  • Either done a high plant population per Ha(in the spirit of wanting more fruits per Ha!) thus affecting both the inter and intra row spacing-this had an impact on the pollination efficiency by the bees as most of the female flowers could be hidden such that by the end of the one viable day,the pollinator will not have efficiently/uniformly spread the pollen into the female flower

……..What esle could be the cause????

Do you have any different experience?  see page 2

HOW YOUR YIELDS AFFECT YOUR SOIL HEALTH AND SUBSEQUENT YIELDS

Most farmers do not clearly know what to feed their crop/how to feed their crops to optimise on the yields-it is prudent to understand that a well fed crop will feed you/your pockets well! how do you do it

                               TWO FARMERS EXPERIENCE,LETS LEARN!

Two farmer whose farms are adjacent to each other decide to TRY farming,they make this decision in Noveber 2014 as they plan/bank on their projected company end year bonus to do this

DECEMBER 2014:Both farmers did a soil test and the report indicated that the level of nutrients in their soils was similar*

JAN 2015:……………FARMER A & FARMER B decide to start!

The two farmers,whose farms are adjacent to each other decided to plant watermelons due to the high returns associated with this crop,they chose the same seed type/variety and because of their friendship,they decided to do all the agronomic practises at the same time w.r.t planting model,spacing,nutritional regime and watering/irrigation regime.since the workers were diferent in both farms,weeding and crop protection differed as each and everyone resorted to the advise he got from difeent company agronomists and farming chat groups…

Three months later

FARMER A:harvested 7 tonnes of the fruit from the 1 acre

FARMER B:harvested 12 tonnes of the fruit from the 1 acre

the farmgate price not being bad,they both accrued good profits justifying their ROI projections

2016…..

The two resolved to plant the watermelons again using the same program as 2015.

What always runs in the mind of the farmer who find himself in this situation as he plans to replant

  • Farmer A thinks he underfed the plants that is why he got lower yields and hence needs to increase the application rates
  •  Farmer b may opt to reduce the amount of fertiliser to be used this growing season insinuationg that his farm is ‘’fertile’’ and will still give better yields
  • Farmer B will stick to the same program and expect the same yields.

What do you think will happen if the same program is repeated?

What do you think farmer A should do? What may fail farmer B should he repeat the same program.?

what do you always do?


Any farmer needs to understand the following,ill put it in the most simplest manner.
Removal rate-this is the toatal amount of nutrients removed from the farm with the produce or after harvesting
uptake rate-this is the total amount of nutrients mined/removed by the plant from the soil
uptake rate is not always same to removal rate as not all the plan parts are removed from te farm during harvesting.
example in melon
for every tone of watermelon harvested,then you remove the following amounts of nutrients from the farm.
1,2kg of Nitrogen
0.39kg of phosphorus
2.9kg of pottassium
0.14kg of calcium
0.12kg of magnesium
0.08kg of sulphur
This implies that if you are targeting 20t in 1acre,then your soil should be able to supply 58kg of K and 24kg of N

in 2015-the cause of the low prduction by farmer A may have been attributed to cop protection* mishap

having harvested more in 2015,this implies that farmer B removed more nutrients from rhe soil than farmer A, thus to ensure sustained production in susequent years/crop,then he need to supply a more or simmilar rate remved from the farm by the previous crop 1.e 12*1.2kg of N=14.2kg and about 34,8kg of K!

this implies that,farmer B needs to  supply more nutrients(read fertilizer) to the farm inorder to maintain the previous yields otherwise,the yields will definitely go down.if he sticks to the same program,thn the yields wil go down

So,what detrmines HOW MUCH FERTILISER ONE APPLIES ?

by knowing the removal rate and,a qualified crop nutrition agronomist can calculate for you this,depending on your target yield

EXAMPLE

if farmer B applied 1 bag of NPK in 2015,then to supply 34.8kgs of K in 2016,he will need 102kgs (2bags) of the same!

otherwie,you will notice tht after a bumper harvest,this is always followed by a very poor harvest,for those doing fruit trees,after a heavy bearing,this is followed by a poor bering/heavy flower and fruit abortion by the plant

*in some parts of africa,the subsequent poor production is sometimes attrbuted to ”bad eyes” by people who envied previous good yields!-this is not true

 

FROM one of the dailies in kenya,here is a response in line with this post,given to a farmer by Mr vitalis wafula,the regional agronomist of Yara East africa ltd on the ASK THE AGRONOMIST PAGE

QUESTION :I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT I TEST MY SOIL AND THEN BUY A FERTILISER  SPECIFICALY  MANUFACTURED FOR MY FARM ,WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE?

RESPONSE: Soil testing is a very important practise as the result will give an indication of the potential of your soil to supply  nutrients as well as its properties which are important in making certain agronomic decisions
However,note/remember that,from your farm,you can still get different soil test results.,this then begs the question,would you have to buy different fertiliser types for the different spots with different results within the same farm? It is not commercially viable for any factory to manufacture hundred or thousands of  to suit the soil needs of everyother  farmer.
SOLUTION IN THE BIGGER  PICTURE
Application of fertilizer is meant to principally feed the crop and not the soil, threfore,it is more important to consier the crop nutrient requirement,and supply them using a specific fertiliser,different crops have dfferent nutrien requirements,therefore,this should be considered when deciding which fertiliser to apply
Soil test results will help you in choosing which fertiliser to use but their usefulness  is limited if they are used as a stand alone decision making  factor for deciding the type of fertiliser to use,instead,the crop nutriet requirements should offer the backgroung and aplication of crop specific fertiliser considered, and the rates adjusted based on the local soil conditions as well as the yield  target ,thus,the more the yield target,the higher the rate of nutrients (fertilizer) you would have to apply hence,crop specific fertilisers with rates adjusted for your soil conditions will certaily give you better value in your faming business )

 

 

THE TELEPHONE FARMER AGONY

After planning on how to go about farming ,the engineer was sure that he will manage as a telephone farmer-any way,what was the essence of Watsapp if not to help him in farmind?

Planting went well ,germination was superb and he was happy,after all,seeing all this transformation while on leave away from nairobi was what he had been longing for.

Done with the lave and could only coe on site after every three weeks,he decided as a good kenyan,put all his trust in the “farm manager” whom he was HANDSOMELY paying ksh 6,000 per month! To manage his 5 acre investment of the watermelo(you know what this investment means)

Back in the office,he happily shared with friends what he is currently doing so that he can get more income as he saw featured in some media on Saturday/Sundays

To motivate the workers,he bought a motorbike to be used to reach the nearest town for chemicals and fuel for the pumps.after all he only needed to call the agrodealer and instruct him to give a particular chemical(which he had widely read about on the internet) and pay via mpesa

Week 3,he couldn’t go to the farm as he was ‘’too busy” to get to the farm,so the best option was to use technology-ask the worker to sent current photos of the farm and specifically te crop condition through watsapp.This,he got after some 1hr as the worker had gone to the market and couldnt take the pics immediately.

Looking at the crop,he was not very happy as they appeared wilted but on inquiry,he was assured that with more watering frequency-which meant more fuel,this will be sorted(as jua ilikuwa imewaka saaana).he promptly increased the fuel allocation

………………….week 5

He got the time off to the farm,and what he found out,was hertbreaking-.THE PHOTOS HE WAS RECIEVING WERE OF A NEIGBOURING FARM whose owner is a peasant farmer and NOT HIS,all his investment was a shaddow of what he envisioned!…

His harvest was some few good looking fruits with the majority classified as sekete and ferried by probox buyers.

PAY YOUR WORKERS WELL!!!!

 

FARMING THE EXCEL WAY-DIY ,ASK AND dont struggle inventing the wheel

Healthy Spinach stalks

You are a doctor,a banker, policeman,an engineer,a nurse…..and while looking for a place to “diversify ” your wealth and increase your income sources, you have found it through different platforms that farming is the thing.

the extrapolations with respect to the costs and profits in relation to the time frame excite you. You are assured of huge untaxed profits within a period of three months by JUST PLANTING watermelons, and the profits are…wow.

you quickly (because you are an expert in analysis, go to excel and create sheets ,link them and what you see is more or less similar to what you have seen trend on social media groups regarding the ROI

you ask yourself what you have been doing all this time, why you did not realize this long time ago and you immediately start thinking of resigning from your current job to concentrate on farming, after all you have the cash, four times more that what the excel sheet tells you that you need to accrue profits that will surpass all that you can get in two years if you continue staying on that Job!

BUT

have you asked for the UNTOLD stories?

do you know that agriculture is not done on paper but in the field?

PICTURE THIS

a farmer buys a tin f seeds worth 60,000.buries all this in the soil and goes home with no security at site to watch over the seeds which of coz he cannot get back even if they don’t germinate as they do not have a warranty!

yesterday, I bought a electric gadget worth 4000 ksh and i have a warranty of 1 year. Yet a seed of 60K has none.

So ,before you trust all those excel formulas, before you are excited by these figures ,before you dive into the agricultural waters, talk to the accredited divers, ask for the stories, listen to the challenges and what they found out. specifically, find the story of one who started with the excel and now he is successful. after all, you don’t need to invent the wheel.

do not be excited by the mouth watering figures propelled into the public by agro based companies eg seed companies on the quantity of harvets you will attain.DIY is the best way

Why MARKET PROJECTIONS ARE NO LONGER RELIABLE

Farmer:Mr peter lemparo
variety planted:Redcoach F1
harvest:13T/acre
year :2016

Agriculture is quickly turning out to be the ”what i can do for life other than ”what i will do after retirement”.with this,many youths are now getting into it whereas many employed persons are leaving employment in droves to ventue into agriculture,the question of When is it the right time to leave employment is a subject for discussion later on.

the new entrants who appreciates the value of proffesionalism in each field engage the servises of agronomists in the area who seek to advise the cients on the best tme to plant inord to get maximum benefit to sustain the venture.

The dissapointment of the new farmers after the failed projection is always evident after harvesting and agroinfokenya seeks to inquire ,who is to blame? is it the agronomist or the farmer?-None of the cited parties is to blame!

The earlier any farmer realizes that the projections based on past planting history are currently rendered absolette and cannot significantly fuction in the current era ,the better prepared the farmer will be in planning his/her planting program

why:In the past ,agronomists would clearly know the extent of crop coverage in specific areas recognised to be the chimneys of a certain crop eg Mwea,oloitoktok and narok areas when talking of tomatoes. marigat,mpeketoni,loitoktok,uganda,mwea,kibwezi and taveta when talking of Melon just to name but a few.

Today:We have to talk of Nairobi area as a serious player in the horticutural industry,moreso,across the country,so many small scale urban farms have come up and these are not in the open,thus making it hard for people to,when analysing the planting trend,to include them.

this may evidently be the reason why,despite low production in the mapped areas for certain crops in the recent past,prices still plumeted to the bottom compared to some years back.

a call to action: Farmers are advised to search for,get and secure a market for their produce before plunging into extensive blind production of a hyped crop with hyped margins and hidden costs that eventually leaves the farmer with a dent in the pocket

Happy farming

NB:this is a personal opinion and any views contrary to these are welcomed

 

SEED TYPE SELECTION-ZEBRA VARIETY

company:Amiran kenya

Maridadi F1

 

SEED VARIETIES

Who dictates the seed variety you plant?

-Buyers have had a big say on this (HOW) –By rejecting some fruits due to the market requiremets on the varietal aspects: SO , which is the BEST SEED to plant? And WHY?

When selecting a seed ,research for the following aspects

The size of the seeds in the fruits after maturity

  1. Some fruits have LARGE AND BLACK SEEDS,If the seeds are big,buyers tend to shun these fruits as these reduce the aesthetic value of the fruit once sliced into pieces,on the other hand,those supplying to a different market niche who have been advised to chew the seeds will g for it without hesitating or blinking an eye.
  2. Some fruits have MANY,SMALL AND GOLDEN/BROWN seeds; These are the mostly favoured varieties in the market
  3. Other fruits/varietis have very FEW seeds but GOLDEN/BROWN ; these are the highly favoures in the market

Time taken to mature

  • The time taken to mature may also differ between different varieties from different sources i.e; a zebra variety from company X will take Y days to mature whereas a zebra variety from company M will take N days to mature

Fruit size uniformity

  • -The maturity days is also dicatadedby the wheather parterns and altitude
  • There is no point of having 100 fruitswith a funny weight/size distribution ie;10 fruits are >10kgs ,40 fruits are 6-8kgs and 50 fruits are less than 3kgs ,this implies that you have 50% rejects(by brokers/buyers standards) although the fruit number is good.Choose a seed type where 70-80% of te fruit size/weight lie in the 6-8kgs(or rather above 4kgs) as this is the best (we await a launch of Table melon type of the zebra seed in the future)

Keeping quality

  • Always seek unbiased advise on the type of seed to plant noting that in agribusiness,aim to have a higher average weight other than a skewed weight distribution.
  • Select a seed type whose fruit will last long after attaining horticultural maturity and even fter ripening. Some seed types will have the fruits start rotting at physiological maturity.after harvesting,some fruits will keep for long whereas others cant

Vine lenght

  • Some seeds if planted at the recomended spacing will crowd and innitiate the challenge of diseases such as botrytis thus the rottig of fruits,this is also proportional to the the first fruit positioning as some will tend to appear late in the vine from the point of germination than others,For the long vined seeds,always give a bigger inter row spacing than for the short vined seeds.ASSIGHNMENTThen:
  • To the farmers and agronomist ,help us identify the seeds

-log in for the next feature discusion on this as we fill the following table with you

  SEED TYPE AREA PLANTED ACREAGE FRUIT SIZE DISTRIBUTION SEED SIZE SEED COLOR KEEPING QUALITY DAYS TO HARVEST TOTAL TONNAGE
1 TRIAL F1 KINANIE 1 >10kgs:20%                             4-9kgs :70%                          <4gs     :10% big black good 60-75 15T
2                  
3                  

 

NB:This is NOT a public ENDORSEMENT OF ANY SEED TYPE but a mission to get the farmer practical response for future advise and trials on the same,ALWAYS CONSULT an good agronomist for the right information on this

 

MARKET REPORT-WATERMELON SEED SELECTION

https://agroinfokenya.com/site/2016/10/21/1-the-very-basic-in-watermelon-farming/THE MARKET REPORT ON SEEDS (TIGER F1,SUKARI F1, MARIDADI F1)

as a duty to the farmer,and the promise of information dissemination, agroinfokenya will without bias post and share farmer experiences on various crops.kindly note that this is not meant to discredit the performanvce of any variety but to inform farmers in the area on what is happening.diffeent obdservations are welcomed on the same to increase our understanding of the same.

Agroinfokenya would wish to point ut that the published results are bound to change under different agronomic conditions such as utrition ,Ph and planting techniques,but not very much per-se on some parameters

Recent comparison

date of the regime:3/6/2016-10/9/2016

Area:Taveta

location:kimala

farmer:mr charles Lerumasi

cell:0715501395

farmer facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/charles.ngui.96?ref=br_rs

seeds compared: Sukari F1,tiger F1,and Maridadi F1

Agronomists:Dennis Nyandaya-crop nutrition

Joshua mutevu:Crop protection

Seeds source:Farmer innitiative

maridadi F1

maridadi F1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

farmers comments:

Seed size

  • Tiger F1 exhibited black and bigger fruits whereas sukari F1 and Maridadi f1 has small and golden seeds

Fruit size

  • Tiger F1 produces bigger uniform fruits of more than 8kgs
  • sukari F1 produces non uniform fruits of different sizes but has uniform maturity/ripening
  • Maridadi F1 has uniform medium sized fruits

Fruit shape

No difference was noted on the fruit shapes but maridadi F1 has a more oval shape that guarantees it the bigger size

Fruit sweetness

  • No major difference noted (maybe if this could be founfd if the farmer had the tool for easuring the brix index)

Keeping quality

  • Of all the varieties,maridadi F1 showed superb keeping quality followed by sukari F1 then Tiger F1.this,the farmer arrived at by monitoring the time taken  for the flesh to crumble when stored as he awaited the customers in his Taveta store.

Time taken to mature

  • The variations in the number of days was minimal and was overshadowed by the consecutive harvests before clearance of te fruits in the farm

NUTRITIONAL PROGRAM USED

kimala soils have a PH of  7.5, the peogramme used was YaraMila winner for planting at 100kg/acre. CAN for first topdres at 75kgs per acre

ON YIELD:

average yield of 13T/acre

Maridadi F1 gave the better yields (Total Tonnage) but on the market parameters,there wee variations on the distribution of fruit sizes in the three fruits.hence,profit realized from the three varieties will ultimately differ depending on the buyer preference and the market supply(this is a contentious issue)