Best Fertilizer for Watermelon Farming

The Best  Fertilizer For Watermelon Farming in Kenya

A healthy melon fruit as a result of only using the best fertilizer for watermelon

Watermelon farming in Kenya is a lucrative business. Not only do watermelons thrive in marginal zones with little rainfall, but they also have two seasons every year, which doubles your earnings. Also, demand is high and no fruit stand or fruit salad would be complete without the rich flavour of watermelon. To grow your melon business, you need to first identify the best fertilizer for watermelon because a well-fed plant will increase yields.

Several watermelon varieties are grown in Kenya. Some of these varieties are:

  • Sukari F1
  • hybrid Pato
  • F1 Charleston
  • Grey Sugar
  • Early Scarlet F1

Watermelon Planting

When it comes to watermelon farming, the first step is determining the variety to use. While some are large and mature slowly, such as the Sukari F1 Hybrid, others, such as the Charleston Grey, are drought tolerant. No nursery is required because they are planted directly into the soil.

The farmer must ensure that the farm is well tilled and the soil is loose to facilitate soil aeration. Additionally, the area should receive at least six hours of sunlight each day, as watermelons require a lot of sunlight to flourish. When planting, plant seeds 1 meter apart with a minimum of 1.5 meters between rows. For the first several weeks following planting, adequate rainfall or irrigation will be required.

Watermelon Fertilizer Recommendation

Choosing the Best Fertilizer for Watermelon

Though watermelons require a wide variety of micronutrients to grow, we will only focus on the most common based on different growth stages;

Pre-Planting Stage

  • Nitrogen and potassium – Help in seed development
  • Phosphorus – Promotes root growth
  • Calcium – Stimulate root and leaf growth
  • Boron, zinc, manganese, and molybdenum – These nutrients promote healthy shoot growth.
  • Nitrogen and phosphorus – Necessary to stimulate growth

Planting Stage

  • Potassium and magnesium – concentrations in leaf tissue should be maximized before floweringPlanting watermelons using plastic muclh
  • Calcium – To boost plant growth
  • Boron – To promote fruit set and flowering
  • Sulfur – Required for protein synthesis to ensure leaf quality and unrestricted growth

Flowering Stage

  • Potassium – Essential for plant growth and floral production
  • Phosphorus – Necessary for fruit development.
  • Calcium – Promotes crop reproduction and ensures adequate supply during early fruiting
  • Magnesium – Promotes flowering and production
  • Boron and zinc – Enhance flower initiation, development, and fruiting
  • Manganese, molybdenum, and zinc – All contribute to healthy fruit development

Fruiting Stage

  • Nitrogen – To be used sparingly to ensure fruit fil
  • Potassium – To help prevent diseases
  • Calcium – Helps maintain the rind’s firmness
  • Magnesium – To increase flowering
  • Boron – Helps maintain a healthy skin finish and promote calcium deliverability

Types of Melon Nutrient Deficiencies to Look Out For

Sulfur Deficiency

You can spot sulphur deficiency by looking at the leaves. If the leaves have a yellow pale green colour, they need sulfur.  Several factors may cause sulfur deficiency. These are:

  • Planting watermelons in acidic soils
  • Planting in Sandy Soils
  • Lack of organic matter in the soil

Sulfur is necessary for the production of chlorophyll and for the efficient utilization of nitrogen.

Calcium Deficiency

Calcium deficiency can be observed in leaves that might have a mottled appearance {the leaves have irregular colour}. Younger and more seriously affected leaves might appear yellow with green veins. Because the melon might have low cell strength, it is not uncommon for them to start to crack. Other signs of calcium deficiency include:

  • Dropping flowers
  • Signs of Blossom End Rot (BER)
  • Watermelons might have a hollow heart
  • Fruits begin to split with the internal flesh browning and becoming watery

 

Because the majority of calcium is stored in the leaves and stems, large rates of calcium are required to promote healthy fruit development

Calcium insufficiency can be worsened by several factors.

  • Acidic soils
  • Sandy soils
  • Acidic peat soils
  • Soils that are high in sodium
  • Aluminium-bearing soils
  • drought
  • feeding the fruits with large amounts of nitrogen and potassium

Calcium is important because it helps in:

  • Root development
  • Proper leaf and fruit development
  • It reduces the chances of rot

Magnesium Deficiency

To determine if the leaves require magnesium, look for interveinal chloroses, which cause the leaves to turn whitish while the leaf veins remain green.

Magnesium deficiency can be worsened by:

  • Acidic soils
  • Potassium-deficient soils
  • Soils that have been treated with a high dose of potassium
  • Periods of cold, damp weather

Magnesium is necessary for increased photosynthetic activity and to increase yields

Nitrogen Deficiency

Leaves stay small and fade to a pale green colour, beginning with the oldest leaves. The stems become brittle, fibrous, and thin. Fewer flowers are produced, resulting in a reduced number of fruits.

Potassium Deficiency

The easiest way to tell that your melons require more potassium is to inspect the leaves. If there is a potassium deficit, the leaves will have a wavy appearance. Older leaves will have decaying edges as a result of a process known as ‘leaf scorch,’. It is not uncommon to spot brown spots on the leaves and because less food is produced, the size of the melon fruit reduces.

Potassium deficiency can be made worse by:

  • Acidic soils
  • Planting in sandy soils
  • Drought
  • Excessive rainfall (leaching) or irrigation
  • Planting in Soils with a high percentage of clay
  • Planting in Soils with depleted potassium

 

Potassium is important because it:

  • Increases the leaf quality
  • Enhances the efficiency of the plant’s water management system
  • It makes fruit disease resistant
  • It enhances resilience especially when you are planting in cold regions

Molybdenum Defeciency

Molybdenum deficiency can also be known as ‘yellows illness.’ Crown leaves initially exhibit interveinal and marginal chlorosis with burned margins. On the leaf blade, little pale dots may appear and this causes the Leaves to be deformed and stunted. If the condition is severe, the leaf margins curl and the leaves shrink. Nitrate builds within the plant, reducing fruit set. Melon is susceptible to molybdenum deficiency which is more prevalent in acid soils with a pH of 4.5 or lower.

In a nutshell, the best melon fertilizer is that which contains the above nutrients. The trick is to know which nutrients are needed during the growing cycle. As a rule of thumb, never plant melons without conducting a soil test.

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