This article focuses on watermelon farming in Kenya. Watermelon is mainly grown in hot regions in the country such as Kajiado, Makueni, Machakos and parts of the Coastal region.
Varieties of Watermelon Grown in Kenya
- Zuri F1
- Sukari F1
- Kubwa F1
- Sugar Baby
- Crimson Sweet
- Sweet Rose F1
Ecological Conditions for Growing Watermelon
- Altitude of 1500m above sea level.
- Temperature range of 15-30°c.
- Well-drained loamy soils with a high content of nutrients.
- Rainfall of 600mm per season.
- Enough sunlight. At least 6-8 hours a day of sunlight.
Land should be prepared early enough before planting to allow weeds to fully decompose.
Propagation is by seeds which can be planted directly or first raised in a seedbed or nursery and later transplanted. The seeds take 7 days to germinate.
During planting, it is advisable to mix soil with organic manure and fertilisers such as DAP to give the plant the necessary nutrients it deserves.
Planting holes should be 2-4 cm deep with a spacing of approximately 1.5m by 1m.
Proper weeding needs to be done to increase the chances of higher yields. This is because weeds compete with the plants for necessary nutrients. Hand weeding or shallow cultivation can be practised.
Pests and Diseases
Common pests that attack watermelons include cutworms, melon fly, red spider mites, white flies, leaf miners, aphids, thrips, nematodes etc.
Common diseases include damping off, powdery mildew, anthracnose, watermelon mosaic, leaf spots and fusarium wilt.
The diseases and pests can be eradicated by using foliar sprays and practising crop rotation among other measures.
Harvesting can be done after 3-4 months depending on the variety planted and other factors such as climatic conditions.
The best time for harvesting is early in the morning when it is still cool.
Upon maturity, the watermelon’s skin colour will change from white to pale yellow. Another indicator of maturity is cracking of the stem.
Averagely, an acre of land can produce 20-35 tones of watermelon.
Watermelon Market In Kenya
A big percentage of the watermelon produced in Kenya is sold in open-air markets located in different parts of the country.
There is also a ready market for the fruit in high-end supermarkets, grocery stores, hotels and other institutions such as schools.
The price of watermelon varies depending on the market. For example, in a town like Nairobi, the price is not the same as the market price in other towns like Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret etc. The average price is Kshs 100 per kg.
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