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Watermelon

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Want to quench thirst and re-boost your body with antioxidants lycopene and vitamin-A? Watermelon has everything you need to beat the scorching summer heat. Wonderfully delicious, thirst-quenching melons are the great source of much needed water and electrolytes to beat the tropical summer temperatures.

Botanically, the fruit belongs to the family of cucurbitaceae of the genus: citrullus, and is related to the other plants such as cantaloupe, squash, and pumpkin that grow as vines on the ground. It is widely grown across many tropical countries where it is one of the major commercial crops.

Botanical name: Citrullus lanatus.

Watermelon, commonly known as “pakwan” in Tagalog, is probably native  to Africa. It is mainly eaten as dessert fruit. The rind is made into  preserves and pickles; the seeds are processed into butong pakwan. In 1982-83,  the area planted to watermelon was 15,410 hectares with a total production of  75, 650 metric tons of fruits; but area was reduced to 5,370 hectares in  1983-1984 and production went down to 57,000 metric tons of fruits. The demand  for watermelon could go up as foreign markets like the USA offered to but all  the watermelon the country can produce.

VARIETIES

Varieties commonly grown in the Philippines are Valencia, Meak, Klondyke, Northern Hybrid,  Tender Sweet, Hony Cream and Mallorca.

Foreign varieties: Accessions 193490 and 293964 from Africa; Acdcessions  183217 and 164539 from India; Festival Queen, Glory, Charleston Gray and Sugar  Bagy.

Elevation- Watermelon is grown comercially in lowland areas after rice  harvest. These provinces are Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija,  Rizal, Batangas and Laguna.

Months of planting- Planting season is from October to January. In some parts  of the country, planting is done as early as August to produce an off-season  crop which commands better market price.

CULTURE

Plow land at least 20 cm deep to increase soil aeration. Plow and harrow 2-3  times for early growth and development. These are done several weeks in advance  of planting to condition soil. Though this is quite expensive. Labor cost of  weeding will be reduced.

Planting and spacing- Watermelon is grown from seeds directly planted in the  field. Plant 3-4 seeds to a hill, 2.5 cm deep. Distance of planting ranges from  1.5 x 1.5 to 2.5 x2.5 meters apart, depending on variety.

FERTILIZATION

Watermelon is generally grown in rotation with other crops; it is necessary  to use manure or any soil improving crop to maintain organic matter in the soil.  Apply 10 to 15 tons of manure per hectare. Apply complete fertilizer at the rate  of 100 to 150 kilograms per hectare at planting time by hand placement 5 to 8 cm  below the soil and 5 to 6 cm away to the side where seeds are placed. If plants  show signs of yellowing, apply sidedressing of nitrogenous fertilizer.

Watermelon has a spreading hairy, tendril-bearing vines reaching 3-5 meter  long. Leaves are oblongovate 8-20 cm long with 3-7 lobes. Flowers are  monoecious, yellow in color and about 2 cm in diameter. Fruits are large,  green-mottled or deep green. Introduced hybrids and varieties produce much  bigger fruits, shapes varying from globular to oblong.

SOIL AND CLIMATE

Watermelon prefers a well-drained sandy loam soil rich in organic matter and  which has not been previously palnted to watermelon. Watermelon requires more  aeration than any other kind of crops, so the field must have good drainage to  obtain good yield. In areas where growing season is short, light soil is  desirable for early harvest. It grows satisfactorily in heavier soil if properly  cared and managed.

Watermelon is tolerant to a wide range of oil acidity with soil pH 5.0 to 6.8  to successful growth. A long period of warm, preferably dry weather contributes  to growth. A temperature of 25 C is ideal for growth and 25 C is the best  temperature for fruit setting.

After plants are well-established, thin to one to two plants per hill.  Alternate plant is planting in continuous rows and thinning the plant to a  distance of 1.5 to 2.0 meters. When plants have 3-4 leaves, thin to one plant  per hill.

CULTIVATION

Cultivate and weed to check weed growth. Any implement may be used for the  purpose. Avoid injury to roots while cultivating.

IRRIGATION

Watermelon may suffer injury when exposed to a long period of drought. Apply  irrigation water when necessary. Frequent light irrigation 5-6 times during  growing season is beneficial. During early stage of growth, irrigate sparingly  since too much water tends to hinder root development.

PEST AND DISEASES

Cucurbit beetle- Adults are yellow beetle 6 to 8 mm in length. They eat  leaves of young and old plants.

Aphids – Adult and young are tiny, greenish insects generally wingless and  soft-bodied. Insect suck the sap of leaves. Infested plants show curling and  distorting of leaves.

Mites – Very tiny insects usually found on undersurface of leaves. Adults are  reddish in color.

Downy Mildew – Caused by Pseudiperonospora cubensis Berk and Curt.  Characterized by the presence of yellow spots on upper surface of leaves and  purplish powdery material on lower surface.

CONTROL  OF PESTS AND DISEASES

Treat the watermelon seeds with appropriate fungicides to minimize early  development of diseases in the field.

Dust or spray the young plants regularly with any suitable insecticides as  soon as the false leaves have spread. At the seedling stage, watermelon are  easily attacked by insect pests.

HARVESTING

Harvest watermelon fruits when mature enough to be sweet. Generally, it takes  a watermelon fruit to mature 35 to 40 days from pollination depending on the  variety. The old method of determining maturity of watermelon is by “thumping” with a finger. A dull or hollow sound is an indication of maturity. The most  practical index, however, is when the color of the lower part of the fruit that  rests on the ground changes from white to creamy yellow. Harvest fruit with a  sharp knife.

POST HARVEST ACTIVITIES

Pile newly harvested fruits in shaded areas. Do not bruise fruits during  sorting, packing and shipping

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Author: qdfriends

QDfriends bonded together for the purpose of helping others, and respecting themselves, their culture and the environment.

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