How to cultivate watermelon sustainably –

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When short-term investment returns are driving factors, watermelon is among the crops. The gestation period is 75 to 90 days, depending on the variety. Watermelon is one of the cultivated and consumed crops that are believed to have originated almost 5000 years ago from the Kalahari Desert in Africa. Cultivated throughout the tropical climate, it is produced in Nigeria at different periods for optimal bumper crop.

Ecology and timing of planting
Watermelon blends well with both forests and savannahs. He is planted in the North, and he also works well in the South. However, the landing time varies.

Dr. Kayod Ajayi, a plant physiologist at the Nigerian Research Institute of Horticulture (NIHORT), Ibadan, said that the watermelon is best planted at the beginning of the rain and at the end of the rainy season.

Farmers in northern and northern central Nigeria, according to Dr. Ajay, can grow around mid-May and late August for early and late production, respectively, while farmers in southern Nigeria can grow fruit crops between mid-March and April, ending or the beginning of September, However, with functional irrigation in the north, watermelon could be planted all year round.

He explained that the watermelon requires the optimal operation of water in a regulated amount. This, he said, explains why the early and late parts of the precipitation periods are often planted.

To obtain the maximum profitability and high profit from investments in watermelons, the following should be strictly observed.

Search for seed sources
Improved seeds could be purchased from accredited seeds and agro-supplier suppliers throughout the country. Most standard watermelon seeds are usually packaged in tin and airtight containers with the date of certification and expiry date, percentage of germination and other details. Buying roadside seeds means planting the second serum seeds of hybrids (seeds extracted from the new watermelon that you buy), which reduce the yield by more than 50%.

Ground preparation
Preparing the land for watermelon begins with cleaning the land, plowing and harrowing to break the soil to sufficient oxygen. Seeds or ridges are meant for sowing to strengthen the soil, especially in the ecology of the forest. "Watermelon does not tolerate water logging, and therefore, if it is planted on heavy soil, the relief will be useful for improving drainage," Ajay suggested. "On loamy soil," he added, "it is usually planted on flat ground after harrowing."

Mechanical preparation of the land is faster, better and cheaper, but manual soil preparation is equally carried out if access to tractors, ridges and militias is limited.

Planting, distance, population and yield
After sprinkling the prepared lands with vegetable-compatible herbicides before the appearance and in anticipation of several days, the next step is planting. Landing can be carried out in stages to allow different lots of harvest, if the farmland is large. However, it should be planted for a day on small farmland.

According to the physiologist of the NIHORT plant, the distance of one meter per meter is ideal, but it can be reduced to one meter by 75 centimeters. At these intervals, the distance from 10,000 to 12,000 crop plants will be on one hectare of land.

Dr. Ajayi said that if 10,000 or 12,000 watermelon seeds are successfully grown, everyone can produce at least one large watermelon. Thus, at the time of harvesting, no less than 10,000 or 12,000 watermelons were expected.

Weed Management
The invasion of weeds competes with the plants of the basic nutrients and depletes them, thereby slowing growth and sharply reducing the yield from a hectare. A watermelon farmer in Ilorin, Kvar, Kabir Lolal, said he controls weeds, he uses pre-emergence selective vegetable herbicides immediately after preparing the soil, about 10 days or more before planting the watermelon seed. Thus, he added, manual weeding will be reduced to one or two times before harvesting.

On small farmland, some farmers control weeds by covering the floor with nylons, but commercial use can be less cost-effective, time-consuming and unstable.

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Watermelon suppresses weeds if exact planting intervals are observed, as foliage and vines spread and form a canopy over weeds, like potatoes.

Plant protection
Watermelon needs maximum protection almost immediately after planting. The inability to protect the crop from insects and fungi is always very damaging and can lead to a complete loss or a significant decrease in yield.

Watermelon is usually sprayed with contact and systemic insecticides and fungicides starting from about 14 days after planting, and then at an interval of 14 days. However, chemical use should stop about 20 days before harvest.

It should be emphasized that the physiologist of the NIHORT plant said that the protection of crops with the help of agrochemicals is one of the factors of success in the production of watermelons, followed by the control of weeds.

Capital requirements
Landing on one hectare (two and a half hectares) watermelon will require from N260,000 to N300,000. Because of the decline in the value of the watermelon farmer / dealer in Ojo, Mr. Tajudin Oyinlola, confirmed by Dr. Ajay at NIHORT, land cleaning, plowing and harrowing per hectare will mechanically cost around 40,000; improved seeds, N25,000; landing and weeding will cost N70 000; fertilizer (four sacks) and labor, N40,000; insecticides and applied labor, N40,000; sprayer, N15,000 and other costs, N30,000.

Return on investment, marketing and sales
According to a survey of the street value of watermelon, a mini truck containing 500 units of the product is sold for N50,000. The division of 10,000 expected yields by 500 will be 20 mini trucks from watermelon. Multiplying this by N50,000 would mean N1 million. According to a NIHORT researcher, this was the minimum estimate. This price was confirmed by one Usman Mohammed, the seller of watermelons in Ibadan, Oyo.

Mohammed said: "I usually buy a mini truck with a watermelon at N50,000, and I sell each of 500 units between the N200 and the N500."

Direct sale to supermarkets, houses, offices and sales in strategic locations could bring more money to genius farmers, especially those who have minibuses or vans for collecting urban products. In this case, one farmer received an average watermelon N250, multiplied by, say, 5,000 watermelons.

Harvest
One way to determine when a watermelon is ripe is to observe how the tendon closest to the trunk of a melon. Antenna is a modified stem in the form of a thin and spiral coil opposite the base of the watermelon on the vine. Of all the indicators of maturity, this is the most reliable. When it becomes brown and dries, the melon ripens. The problem with this method is that with some varieties of watermelon, the tendon dries and falls out more than a week before the melon is fully ripe and the sample will determine whether to start harvesting or not.

Another sign of ripeness in most varieties of watermelon is the color of the bottom spot where the melon sits on the ground. When the watermelon ripens, the stain turns from almost white into a rich yellow. In addition, all watermelons lose a powdery or smooth view from above and get a boring look.

One good thing about watermelon is that a site or two lands can be used to produce crops about three to four times a year with drip irrigation. The dry season of planting a watermelon with a mini-drip irrigation makes it better and attracts more revenue. This allows you to increase the number of plants in the plots, because there is no competition of weeds with a crop. Therefore, fewer pests of pests and weeds. Secondly, the product will be ready for the season and, therefore, is sold faster and with higher prices.

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