Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is known to be a warm-season annual plant which produces large, juicy fruits. The fruits come out in different shapes it may be round or oblong, have pink, red or yellow flesh and solid, marbled or striped skins. There are some varieties that have thin, white edible seeds in the flesh.
Every farmer or intending watermelon farmer should keep in mind that for optimum growth and fruit production, watermelon requires just the right environment below:
Climate Requirement of Watermelon
Watermelon plants prefer the heat and need a long, warm growing season of at least 70days to 85days, depending on the variety in order to produce sweet fruits. They grow best when daytime temperatures fall between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and nighttime temperatures fall between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
They can thrive in both humid and semi-arid environments, but fungal foliage diseases can be easily developed in humid areas more frequently than in dry areas. Watermelon plants need an area with full sun to develop completely.
Soil Requirement of Watermelon
Watermelon grows best in a fertile, well-drained, sandy loam soils. In most soils incorporating a few inches of organic compost as well as fertilizers before planting will benefit the soil.
Note: Avoid using very sandy or clay soils because they will stunt the growth of watermelon if not handled properly and keeping the weeds down around the melons from planting to harvest will also help to reduce competition for water and nutrients.
A mulch layer of about 2- to 3inch around the bases of the plants can help with weed suppression with little manual labor and after growth emerges, the plants may benefit from a side dressing of fertilizer to encourage strong growth although some already rich soils may not require this extra boost.
Plant Spacing Requirement of Watermelon
Watermelon plants require lots of space to grow and spread out therefore if you start seeds directly in the ground you have to build mounds in your garden, spacing them at about 4 to 6 feet apart and plant four to six seeds per mound and when the seedlings develop two leaves; thin them to two plants per mound.
But if you decide to start the seeds indoors and transplant them outdoors after some growth then you have to plant them in rows instead. Meanwhile, watermelons have two types of growth habits which are: bush and vine.
The bush varieties can grow 2 feet apart in rows and 4-6 feet apart. Some varieties like the Vining varieties may require 5-6 feet between each plant and 6-8 feet between each row.
Watermelon plant requires an abundance of water in order to produce healthy fruit therefore you have to keep the soil consistently moist from planting until the fruit reaches the size of a tennis ball. After that point, water when the top of the soil feels dry to the touch.
Always be careful as this plant can easily develop fungal foliage problems, so if you must water overhead, do so in the morning so that the foliage has a chance to dry during the day.
I suggest the use of Drip irrigation as it can eliminate, or greatly reduce, this problem and each time you water, water deeply to a depth of at least 6 inches.
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is a plant species in the family Cucurbitaceae, a vine-like flowering plant originating in West Africa. It is a highly cultivated fruit worldwide, having more than 1000 varieties.
It is a scrambling and trailing vine in the flowering plant family Cucurbitaceae. There is evidence from seeds in Pharaoh tombs of watermelon cultivation in Ancient Egypt.
It is grown in favorable climates from tropical to temperate regions worldwide for its large edible fruit, which is a berry with a hard rind and no internal divisions, and is botanically called a pepo.
The sweet, juicy flesh is usually deep red to pink, with many black seeds, although seedless varieties exist. The fruit can be eaten raw or pickled, and the rind is edible after cooking. It is commonly consumed as a juice or as an ingredient in mixed beverages.
Read Also: Complete Guide on How to Grow Watermelon