Grow watermelon vines now to harvest fruits in summer; Sugar Baby is a hit
In order to get watermelon during the scorching summer in March, we have to grow the plant now. The period between October and March is ideal for watermelon farming. Researchers in the Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) have developed high quality watermelon seeds and introduced farming methods suitable for the climate in Kerala.
Planting and care
Watermelon requires plenty of sunlight to flourish. Loam soil is the best for planting watermelon. It grows well in paddy fields, river banks and orchards.
Till the soil properly and make holes leaving a gap 2 metres between them. Make sure the holes have 60 cm diameter and 45 cm depth. Mix half a coconut shell full of lime with the topsoil in each flowerbed.
Organic fertilizers like vermicompost, chicken manure or cattle dung can be applied after one week. 10 kilograms of organic fertilizer can be applied in each flowerbed. Three seeds should be sowed in one flowerbed.
Add organic fertilizer aplenty after the vines grow, flowers bloom and fruits emerge. Biogas slurry, fish amino acid and Trichoderma can be used for this.
During the primary phase of growth, irrigate once in two days. After the plant begins to bear fruits, irrigate on alternate days. Also irrigation is mandatory during important phase of growth like blooming and bearing fruits.
It is ideal to mulch the flowerbed. In order to support the vine, spread dry twigs and hay on the ground. Make sure the growing watermelon fruits do not touch the ground directly.
The hybrid varieties take 5-6 days while the variety named Sugar Baby takes only 3-4 days to sprout. Saplings begin blooming after 35 days of planting. Fruits can be harvested after 45-50 days of blooming. Stop watering 15 days before harvesting.
It is recommended to intercrop different varieties of watermelon. After planting five rows of Swarna or Shonima variety, plant one row of Sugar Baby. While purchasing seeds from Agricultural University, these seeds will be included in the packet.
There are different varieties of watermelon available these days.
Arka Manik: Developed by Indian institute of Horticulture Research in Bengaluru. It is noted for light green rind and dark green lines on it. The flesh is deep red in colour and has attractive aroma and sweetness. Average weight of fruit is 6 kilograms. High immunity is a specialty. Fruit ripes within 110-115 days.
Sugar Baby: Developed by Indian Agricultural Research Institute in Delhi. One of the popular varieties in Kerala. Small fruits weigh around 3-5 kilograms. Rind is bluish black in colour. Fruit ripes in 85 days and are very sweet.
Arka Jyoti: Round shaped fruits weighing around 6-8 kilograms. Red flesh and light green rind and dark green lines on it.
Seedless watermelons: Majority of the people are fond of seedless watermelons. It is always a distraction to spit out the black seeds while enjoying the sweetness of the red flesh. The Agricultural University developed two seedless varieties of watermelon; ‘Swarna’ that has yellow flesh and ‘Shonima’ that has red flesh.
To get seeds
National Seeds Corporation, Palakkad – 0491 2566414
Attic Sales counter, Mannuthy – 0487 2370540 (Price: Shonima, Swarna – Rs 30/gram)
Indian Institute of Horticulture Research, Bengaluru – 080 23086100