The Kaolack watermelon is one of the most popular watermelon seed grown in Nigeria by most smallholder farmers. It is also widely consumed across the entire country and across Africa.
Optimum germination temperature: 27-32°C, with night temperature not lower than 24°C. Optimum growth temperatures at night are 18-20°C, and day 24-30°C, and for ripening 15- 25°C. 2.2
Kaolack watermelons can be grown on a wide range of soil types although sandy soils are preferred. The highest yields will generally be produced on well-drained sandy-loam soils. Heavy clay soils, soils with obstructed drainage, or very shallow soils should be avoided. Soil pH should be about 5.8-6.2 (H2O). It is usually recommended to lime soil with pH values below 5.5 (H2O).
The soil must be thoroughly and deeply cultivated to obtain a good root system. This allows the optimal use of moisture and helps to prevent soil-borne diseases. The roots develop at a depth of 30-40cm and the soil structure at that level must be optimal. Soils must be free draining to below 1.2m.
Plant Population And Spacing
A general spacing of between 4,000 to 8,000 plants per hectare is recommended.
The seed of triploid watermelons is notoriously sensitive to very specific conditions during germination, as the tiny embryo is contained in a relatively large, hard seed coat. Temperature and moisture control is crucial to success, and too much moisture during germination can kill the seed.
Seedlings must be transplanted and watered as soon as possible after they have been obtained from the nursery. Planting trays should be kept cool and moist in the shade until used. When transplanting, roots should not be damaged by the application of unnecessary pressure around the root module. Soil should be watered into contact with the roots rather than pressed in.
Watermelon is reasonably sensitive to salt, displaying a 50% yield reduction in the range of EC 4-6 (mhos/cm at 25 C). Consult Farmsquare or a fertilizer or soil specialist on other remedies needed in terms of a soil sample result.
They include; Aphids, Cucumber Beetles. Squash Vine Borer Moths and Fusarium Wilt. Although some of these diseases can be treated early through close monitory of the farm with agrochemicals recommended for watermelon production.
How to know when your Watermelon is due for harvest
Watermelon maturity can be determined by a combination of indicators:
- External fruit rind color
- Buttery-yellow color of the ground spot.
- Various stages of leaf and tendril drying out near the fruit peduncle.
- Dull sound when you hit it.
- Slight cracking sound internally, when the whole fruit is pressed.
- Internal flesh color should be properly developed and characteristic of the cultivar.
- Brix with a minimum refractometer reading of 9° Brix can indicate maturity.
- Taste samples throughout the field to confirm acceptable harvest indicators.
- Watermelons should be harvested in the early morning, as hot fruit respires much more rapidly and leads to over-ripe fruit on delivery.
- Cut the stem about 2-4 cm long; do not pull fruit from vines.
- The longer stems make it more difficult for rots to enter the watermelon.
- Regular sanitation of knives and pruning scissors is essential.
- Harvested fruit should be kept under the shade and transported to the packhouse or market within the shortest possible time to prevent the fruit temperature from rising and minimize moisture loss.