Although watermelon is native of tropical and subtropical Africa, it’s grown and popular everywhere.
It grows best on fertile sandy soil, particularly on sandy river banks. It also grows well in hot dry areas with an abundance of sunshine.
It is fairly drought resistant and will not withstand waterlogging.
Watermelon at Maturity
The fruits mature in four to five months after sowing.
Once the fruits are developed, they will continue to increase in size and weight, and rest on the ground.
The watermelon itself needs a lot of water while the leaves need more sunlight than water.
Farmers would have to be careful while watering as the water needs to be at the root itself.
The soil has to be kept evenly moist, and the fruit then lies on the moist ground.
This is to prevent it from rotting quickly. It is advisable to place polystyrene sheets or any other good alternative under the fruit to prevent direct contact with the moist soil.
Watermelon Harvest Time
It takes about five months long to harvest watermelon and you can get between two to four watermelons per plant on average during harvest.
For it to reach its ripeness and have a sweet taste, it is important to know the right time of harvest.
How to know when watermelon is ready to be picked is not difficult at all, and size does not determine the time of ripening.
Depending on the time of planting, the weather condition, soil conditions, the variety, and management practice, it can reach the full size of between 20 centimeters and 50 centimeters and a weight of 20 kilograms or more.
If you notice the following on your watermelon, then it means it has reached the optimum state of ripeness and it’s time to harvest it.
The skin of the fruit will become dark green and have a yellowish tinge
As a rule of thumb, you can knock the melon, and once you hear a hollow sound, it means it’s ripe.
When you’re in autumn and the leaves wither, then your fruit may be ready to be picked.
Harvesting and Storage
When you’re sure your watermelons are ripe (Note that they won’t ripe all at the same time), you can separate the watermelon from the plant with a sharp knife.
The cut should be done in a way that the stem remains on the plant. The stem keeps it closed and makes it last longer.
You need to be careful handling your harvest as they can easily get damaged.
Watermelon is perishable and can not be stored for a very long time. Therefore, you need to get the market available before harvesting.
Most varieties of fruits can not be stored for more than one month.
Kindly note that your watermelon can not ripen further after being picked, so the timing of how you want it to ripe and taste is very important.
If not managed well and harvested on time, these diseases can be more pronounced on your farm – Fusarium wilt, anthracnose, downy mildew, and mosaic virus.
Once you harvest your fruit, you can now enjoy it. The sweet juicy pulp of the ripe fruit is eaten fresh.
You can also eat the whitish part and the seeds. The seeds can be fried and eaten. In fact, it’s nutritious more than you might think.
Oil can also be extracted from the seeds, and it can be milled with livestock feeds as well.