Cultivation of Watermelon in India

Cultivation of Watermelon in India

Cultivation of Watermelon in India 

Watermelon ( Citrullus vulgaris Schard ) belongs to
 Cucurbitaceae family. The watermelon is a long-season summer crop it is cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions across the world. It is generally grown for its ripe and well mature fruit. The fruits are delicious and sweet. The fruit size of watermelons varies from 2 kg to 15 kg depending upon the variety grown  Watermelon is indigenous to tropical Africa but the first recorded crop was found in Egypt.

Nutritive Value of Watermelon;

The nutritive value of watermelon in 100 gm of the edible portion is given below ;
 Moisture = 95.8gm, Protein = 0.2 gms, Fat = 0.2 gms Minerals= 0.3 gms , Fibre =0.2 gms ,Other Carbohydrates= 3.3 gms Calories= 16 , Calcium=11.0 mg ,magnesium= 13.0 mg , Oxalic acid =11.0 mg,Phosphorus =12.0 mg,Iron =7.9 mg , Sodium = 27.3 mg , Potassium =160.0 mg ,Copper= 0.05 mg Sulphur = 42.0 mg,Thiamine = 0.02 mg Riboflavin = 0.04mg Nicotinic acid = 0.10 mg Vitamin C= 1.0 mg Vitamin – A = Nil

Climatic Requirement for Watermelon cultivation ;

Watermelon needs a long growing season with a relatively high temperature. It cannot withstand frost. The best temperature for watermelon production is between 18°C – 35°C the cool night with warm days are the most favorable condition for watermelon production. The seed does not germinate satisfactorily below 21°C. Dry weather during ripening with high temperature, enough sunshine, and dry winds favor the development of flavor and high sugar content

Soil & its preparation for watermelon cultivation;

 Watermelon can be grown in well-drained sandy soils but deep sandy loam soil rich in organic matter is best suited for the watermelon crop. It is generally cultivated on river beds. The optimum soil pH is 5.5 to 7.0.
The land is thoroughly prepared by giving 5 to 6 ploughings The field should be well leveled and free from the weeds and the previous crop remains.

Varieties of Watermelon;

Sugar Baby; This Variety is developed by IARI It has  Small, round fruits and the fruit weighs is around 3-5 Kg  The outer skin color of this variety is bluish-black It has deep pink flesh and consists of small seeds its yield potential is72 Quintal per Acre.

Improved Shipper; Released by Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana it has large fruits with a dark green outer skin and is Moderately sweet. The yield potential of this variety is 70-80 quintal per acre
Asahi Yamatoby; Developedby IARI its fruits are Medium-sized with a weigh of  6-8 Kg per fruit. This variety is ready to
harvest in 95 days it has deep pink colored flesh.

Special No.1; Developed by Punjab Agricultural University,
It has small, round fruits with red color flesh This is an early maturing variety
Arka Jyoti; Developed by IIHR It has round, medium-sized fruits. it has a light green rind with dark green stripes and has crimson-colored flesh. The fruits weigh is around 6-8 Kg it is a mid-season variety
Arka Manik; is developed by IIHR This variety posses round or oval-shaped fruits and has a green rind with light green stripes It has a deep red flesh which is very sweet in taste. The Fruits weigh 6 Kg on average and Can withstand transport and storage stress it has resistant to powdery mildew and tolerant to anthracnose disease
Durgapura Meetha; Thisvariety is developed by ARS, Rajasthan It has round fruits with a thick rind and light green colored skin It has dark red flesh this variety is late maturing
The seeds have a black-colored margin and tip. it is very sweet to taste and ready for harvest in 125 days
Durgapura Kesar  Developed by ARS, Rajasthan has round fruits The rind of this variety is of green- color with stripes It has a yellow-colored flesh with fruits weigh 4-5 Kg This variety has moderate sweetness and has large seeds,.It is a late-maturing variety
Exotic varieties of WatermelonHybrid Yellow Doll and Watermelon Hybrid Red Doll are from China 
Mardi gras, Royal Flush, Dumara, Celebration, Paradise, Sangria, Oasis, Star Bright, Baron, Samos, Celebration, Arriba, etc.are from America.

Sowing of Watermelon seeds

(a) Sowing time of watermelon. The seed is generally sown from November to March in the plains and from the middle of February to the end of March in the hills. The seed is soaked 12-15 hrs and should be kept overnight in wet gunny bags before sowing.
(b) Seed rate.The seed rate is one kg per acre.
(c) Method of planting. Suggest four methods of watermelon planting are as follows – 

1. Shallow pit method
In this method, pits of 60 x 60 x 45 cm are dug at a distance of 1.5 to 2.5 meters. Each pit is filled with a mixture of soil and 4 to 5 kg of F.Y.M or compost, 30 to 40 gm Urea, 40 to 50 gm. Single Superphosphate and 80 to 100 gm of murate of Potash. After filling the pit circular basin are made and five to six seeds are sown per basin at 2 to 3 cm deep and covered with fine soil, FY.M. or compost. 
2. Deep pit method
This method is followed in the case of river bed cultivation. Circular pits of 60 to 75 cm diameter and 10 to 1.5 m depth are dug at a distance of 1.5 to 2.5-meter distance both ways.
3. Ridge method The seeds are sown on the side of raised beds.
4. Mound beds; Seeds are sown on the mounds. The seed rate is 1.6 kg per acre.

The normal spacing is row to row 300 cm and plant to plant 90 cm. The germination percent and the storage life of seeds can be improved by treating freshly extracted seeds with Trichoderma viiridi 4 grams or Pseudomonas fluorescens 10 grams or Carbendizim 2 grams/kg of watermelon seeds.

Manuring and Fertilizer in Watermelon Farming;

40 kg Nitrogen, 20 kg Phosphoric acid, and 20 kg Potassium per acre are recommended for watermelon farming.  The suggested application of 1200 to 1400 kg of compost per acre followed by 30 to 32 kg Nitrogen, 20 kg Phosphoric acid and 20 kg Potassium per acre for a good crop

Intercultural Operations in watermelon Farming;

Two or three hoeings may be done during the early stages of growth to keep down the weeds and to conserve soil moisture. Two or three plants are kept at one place in the hills or beds by thinning the extra plant. Weeding is not required when vines cover the ground. Pinching should be done in watermelon when the apical shoot attains one meter of growth it will allow the side shoots to grow.

Irrigation in Watermelon crop;

Irrigate the field before the dibbling of the watermelon seed and subsequent irrigation must be given once a week Water stress condition results in cracking of the watermelon fruit. In the problematic areas, drip irrigation is the best option 

Disease and Pest Management in Watermelon;

Diseases of watermelon; 

1) Watermelon Mosiac; This disease is transmitted by Aphids

Infected vines are conspicuous because the tips of the runners and the spreading of shoots, leaves of the infected watermelon plants also show several deformations, blistering, and remain small in size. Watermelon mosaic disease may cause a loss of up to 30-40%

Control; This disease can be controlled be; 1) Roughing of all the diseased plants from the field 2) The host weed should not be present in the watermelon field and 3) Control the aphid vector.
2)Bud necrosis; This disease is transmitted by thrips and the primary symptom is necrosis of bud.The buds turn in brownish-black color and die. The leaf symptoms include brown or black spots that cover the entire leaf lamina and leaf petiole. Complete concentric rings can be seen on fruits. Incidence of this disease may go upto 70-80% and may cause 80-90% losses in the yield of watermelon.
Control; Treat the seeds with imidacloprid 70WS@10 gms/kg of seeds and further followed by three sprays of imidacloprid 17.8 SL@.25ml/liter of water gives the best results

Pest of Watermelon;

Beetles; The beetle can be controlled by the spraying of malathion 50EC 1ml/liter of water at the interval of one week.
Fruit Fly; Fruit fly can be controlled by;1) Collect and destroy the affected fruits 2) As the flies population are at peak during the rainy season and low during the hot conditions so by adjusting the sowing dates of watermelon the incidence of fruitflies can be controlled. 3) Pupa’s of the flies must be exposed by proper ploughing 4) Flies can be trapped by using a fish meal trap with 5 g of wet fish meal and 1 g of Dichlorvos in cotton ( use polythene bags for keeping the trap ). 12-15 traps are sufficient for the one acre of field. 6) As per need the neem oil ckae@ 3% can also be used for controlling the flies.

Harvesting of Watermelon;

The plant bears fruits in 4 to 5 months after sowing. The watermelon should be harvested at the proper stage of maturity. The following points give are an indication of ripeness,
1. Withering of tendrils. The tendril that subtends the peduncle of the fruit usually withers when the fruits ripes and watermelon is seldom ripe if the tendril is still green. But it may be unripe even if the tendril is dried in some varieties.
2. Thumping. Ripe fruit, when thumped with the finger, gives out a muffled dull or dead sound, whereas the immature fruits give out a metallic and ringing sound.
3. Colour of the ground spot. It is white when fruits are green and they rest over it. When the fruits are ripe they change to yellow.
4. Pressure on the fruit. A ripe melon emits a crisp cracking noise on being pressed with the flat of the hand. Moreover, the rind of a ripe melon yields little under the pressure of the thumb. In some varieties, even slight pressure will crack the fruit.
If the fruits are allowed to over ripen, the pulp loses the sweetness and soon develops an off-flavor and rot. It is, therefore, very necessary that they should be harvested at the fully ripe stage because they ripen very little on their way to the market. 
The yield of watermelon;
The average yield is 8,000 to 12,000 kg per acre.

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