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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Agriculture farming of watermelon (Watermelon production guide in Kenya)

Watermelon Varieties
  • Charleston Gray
  • Crimson Sweet
  • Sugar Baby 
Ecological requirements.

Altitude -Watermelons can grow at altitudes of up to 1500 m, best growing areas are the lowlands with high temperatures and relatively low rainfall where irrigation may or may not be necessary.

Sites and soils -Watermelons do well on sandy loam soils which are well drained and slightly acid. When planted on very heavy soils, the plants develop slowly, and fruit size and quality are usually inferior.

Temperatures - They do well at temperatures between 22 and 28 degree centigrade. Stagnation of growth occurs at temperatures less than 15degree centigrade.

Rainfall - Optimum rainfall requirement per cropping season is 600 mm and 400 mm is considered minimum. Excessive humidity may favor leaf diseases and also affect flowering.

Propagation -Watermelon is propagated by:  
  • Seeds, directly planted in the field.
  • Transplants: Instead of planting directly in the field and have 3 weeks of accumulated weeds germination and insect attacks to battle with, planting of seeds in seed trays in a protected area for later transplant into the field when at least 2 permanent leaves have developed, is a very viable option.
  • Watermelon is grafted in some production areas
Planting-Watermelons are grown throughout the year in lowland areas but peaks of rainy season should be avoided. The holes are dug at a distance of about one meter within the row and about 2 meters between the rows. Plant 2 seeds per hill, placing them 3 to 4 cm (1.5 inches) deep into the soil.
Pollination -Watermelons produce separate male and female flowers. Male flowers are produced initially, followed by production of both sexes usually at a ratio of 1 female to 7 males. Watermelon flowers are viable for only one day hence important to have pollinating insects.

Weeding-To be done regularly to keep the field clean. Avoid injuring the plants when weeding.

Fruit pruning-Remove blossom-end rot fruits to promote additional fruit set and better size of the remaining melons. If a market demands larger melons, remove all but three or four well shaped melons from each plant. To avoid disease spread, do not prune melons when vines are wet.

Harvesting-Harvesting usually begins 3-4 months after planting. Maturity is sometimes difficult to determine. Useful maturity indicators are listed below. Maturity indicators include:
  • The change from white to cream or pale yellow of the skin area where the melon has been resting on the soil
  • A dull hollow sound when the fruit is tapped with the knuckles
Storage-Ensure minimum handling of melons, as extra handling is expensive and may harm the fruits.

Rotation-Watermelons can be rotated with cereals, legumes or cabbages

Flea Beetles
Red spider mites
Damping-off diseases
Root-knot nematodes
Powdery mildew

Also see our:
4.Farming through mobile phone sms
5.Modern farming at Kenyan Coast 
For more details contact:Farm Management Consultancy

Agriculture farming of tomato (Tomato production guide)

  To promote the growing of tomatoes throughout the year.
 -Tomatoes are scarce in wet (rainy) seasons and plenty during dry seasons.  In wet seasons tomatoes are seriously infected by various diseases, the most common being tomato late blight.
 -Some areas  are generally cool and wet, making it very difficult for tomato growth
(a) Inputs
     (i) Labor – for construction, digging trenches, mixing
         planting medium,leveling and crop management
    (ii) Seeds – 5gms (1000 seeds)
    (iii) Fertilizers – 15kgs DAP, 15kgs CAN and 15kgs CN for
         top dressing.Foliar feed – 2 liters or 2kgs
    (iv) Insecticide and fungicides  
     -Insecticides – systemic (½ liter) and contact(½ liter)at
     -Fungicides – Preventive (1kg) and curative (1kg).
     NB/ Alternate preventive fungicides with curative
     fungicides for effective disease control and to avoid 
     disease resistance.
(v) Planting medium
     -Sawdust/Sand/Manure at the ratio of 3:1:1 
     -Top soil/sand/manure at ratio of 3:1:1

5.2 Nursery Establishment
a) Construction of germination boxes
 -Measure boxes of 90cm (length) x 45cm (width) x 10cm (depth)
 -Fill the first 5cm of the box with small stones (2 inches) followed by 2cm of sand and then 2cm of forest soil mixed with well rotten manure or use the already mixed growing medium
 -Mix the forest soil/growing medium with a handful of DAP fertilizer and Nematicide to control nematodes.
 -Make drills of 8cm apart, leaving 5cm from both edges of the box.  This gives 10 lines/box
 -Plant 50 seeds per line (to give 500seeds/box).  2 boxes are required.
(b) Nursery Management
 -After sowing, cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil or sisal bag and water immediately
 -Water twice a day, early in the morning and late in the evening for the first 2 weeks.  Reduce watering in the third week to harden off the seedlings.
5.3 Transplanting
 -Transplanted at 3 weeks.
    NB:After transplanting, initial watering should be mixed
     with a curative fungicide to eradicate any fungal
     manifestation e.g. Ridomil, Equation Pro, Galben, Milraz,   
     Acrobat, etc.When transplanting spray with Preventive
     fungicide such asDithane M45, Milthane Super, Sancozeb,
 -Dig holes at 30cm by 60cm for 1000 plants
 -Water the beds.  Transplant late in the evening or early in the morning on a cloudy day.
 -Apply 20gms per hole (1 tablespoonful) of DAP/TSP/DSP and mix thoroughly with the planting medium to avoid direct contact with the seedlings.
5.4 Important Management Aspects
(a) Training/Trellising 
 -A strong wire 12-14 gauge is placed parallel to the row of plants from one end of the house to the other at the height of the posts (3 m) from the ground.
 -Sisal twine is tied around the stem base of   the plant, which is then trained to achieve 8 – 12 trusses of tomato.
(b) Disbudding/de-suckering:
    Done early to remove side suckers or branches to leave one
    stem only per plant     
(c) Bud nipping:-
 -To get healthy and uniform fruits remove apex or growing bud when plant achieves 8-12 trusses (to remove apical dominance)
(e) Leaf trimming
-This is cutting of leaves.
(f) Top dressing:
 -Apply 20g of CAN per plant, 2 weeks after transplanting and 20g CN (Calcium Nitrate) 2 weeks later to encourage vigorous growth.
 -Thereafter apply foliar feed at 2 weeks interval to provide micronutrients
(d) Defoliation.
 -This is the removal of excess leaves in order to avoid bushy plants, which reduce fruit growth
(e) Leaf trimming
-This is cutting of leaves.
(f) Top dressing:
 -Apply 20g of CAN per plant, 2 weeks after transplanting and 20g CN (Calcium Nitrate) 2 weeks later to encourage vigorous growth.
 -Thereafter apply foliar feed at 2 weeks interval to provide micronutrients 
(g)Insect Pests Control  
 -Use systemic insecticides e.g. Dimethoate, Metasystox, etc in early stages and pyrethroids like Karate during harvesting period. 
(h) Disease Control
 -Use preventive fungicides alternated with curative ones.
 -Harvesting period starts 21/2 to 3 months after transplanting and can take 3 to 12 months, depending on variety and management.
 -Yields of 5 – 25kgs per plant may be realized depending on management and variety.
 -Up to 50kgs per plant have been reported under special condition

Also see our:
1.Great tomato production farm by Farm Management Consultancy
2.Watermelon production guide in Kenya by farm management consultancy
3.Farming as a business new website 
4. Modern farming at Kenyan Coast For more details contact:Farm Management Consultancy