The first is the size of your watermelon plants. The larger the plant, the more fruit it will produce, so you need to make sure that you have the space for larger plants. If you want to grow small watermelons, then you can use fewer plants per hectare.
You’ll also want to consider how many months you’ll be growing your watermelons. If you’re growing them from seedlings and transplanting them into the ground as opposed to direct sowing, then this will affect how many plants you need to have in order to get a good yield at harvest time.
Watermelons need a lot of space. Watermelon plants can grow up to 7 feet tall and produce about 100 fruits each season. The average watermelon weighs about 2 pounds, so you’ll need to plant around 6,000 plants per hectare to make sure you have enough fruit for your family or business.
One of the most important decisions producers make is selecting varieties of watermelon. If these are not suitable for the production area and/or climate, the yield may be low or the enterprise may fail. Selecting varieties that are disease resistant, have an acceptable yield, and are adapted to the area can also be key to success. Read on to learn how to choose watermelon varieties that will grow well in your region.
1,600 to 1,800 watermelon plants per acre
The watermelon plant is indigenous to central Africa and was domesticated by the ancient Egyptians. Modern farmers usually plant about 1,600 to 1,800 watermelon plants per acre. Each plant is capable of producing up to two melons. Florida is the leading watermelon producer in the country, accounting for 19 percent of the total 3.9 billion pounds produced last year, which is about two-thirds of the total produced in the United States.
It takes 65 to 90 days for watermelons to mature and can weigh between six and 10 pounds. Farmers should fertilize watermelons with one or two pounds of calcium or ammonium nitrate per 100 feet of row. Fertilizing is best done before the vines start to grow. Fertilizing is also important after the fruit has formed. A common mistake with watermelons is not fertilizing them enough.
Commercial seedless growers plant seeds of elongated diploid varieties with an Allsweet stripe pattern. The preferred Allsweet type pollenizer is SANGRIA(tm), available from Syngenta Seeds, Inc. in Boise, ID. Diploid watermelons are interplanted between rows and within them. The current method of planting diploid plants is to space them at equal distances from the adjacent triploid plants.
Watermelon grows best when the rows are spaced two meters apart. However, this may vary slightly based on the cultivar and the equipment used for cultivating it. In general, in-row spacing for watermelon plants should be between 50 and 80 cm apart. Cheap, open pollinated varieties may be planted closer together as long as they are not crowded. Seeds should be planted in moist soil and buried two centimeters deep. Seedless watermelon varieties must be planted with normal diploid seeds.
The importance of in-row spacing for watermelon plants cannot be understated. Planting watermelon at an appropriate spacing will enhance its yield and reduce labor. Watermelon plants grow on long vines and need a sufficient amount of space to grow properly. Some varieties require only three feet between rows while others require a distance of at least 10 feet. When spacing watermelon plants, remember that the size and shape of each vine will determine how close they should be to each other.
One of the most important decisions for watermelon growers is selecting the right variety. Choosing the wrong variety could result in lower profits or the failure of the entire enterprise. Many local varieties do not ship well. Hence, it is crucial to choose varieties with high yield, adaptability to production area, and disease resistance. If you have a hard time choosing a variety, consider these tips:
Area per plant
The recommended area per watermelon plant varies by variety. Early varieties should be spaced three to eight feet apart. Plant larger varieties five to eight feet apart. For hill planting, create a grid of squares at least 6 feet by 6 feet. For maximum yield, space plants six feet apart in rows, four rows wide and five rows deep. Depending on the variety, watermelons may need up to ten square feet per plant.
Fertilize your soil to ensure good rooting and a good crop yield. Apply 90-120 lbs of nitrogen per acre. Don’t over-fertilize as excess nitrogen is detrimental to the flavor. Phosphorus and potassium should be applied in a range of 50 to 120 lbs/acre. Sulfur should be applied at a rate of 30 to 50 pounds per acre. Check soil tests to ensure your plants are getting the right amounts of the micronutrients.
Windbreaks are useful for melon rows in eastern Oregon. Be sure to establish the windbreak in the fall so it is ready to use in the spring. In eastern Oregon, winter wheat varieties, rye, oats, and spring barley can all be planted in February. Seeding the rows with these crops requires approximately 10 lb of seed per foot, and should be spaced about 1.5 to six feet apart.
Pruning watermelon plants can help reduce pests and promote better yields. Watermelon plants produce both male and female flowers. Cutting the female flowers will cause the plant to focus more energy on the male flowers instead of the females. Watermelon plants are prone to stem rot, so it is best to prune them as soon as you notice it. But, be aware that pruning your watermelon plant can also cause it to produce lower-quality fruit.
Although pruning watermelon plants is not necessary, it does encourage healthier vines and larger melons. It will also reduce the number of female blossoms, which are necessary for pollination. Pruning the fruit may cause the plant to grow additional runners, which may delay fruit set. Watermelon plants should not be pruned while wet, as cutting the fruit will cause it to rot or infect it.
While watermelons are in the same plant family as cucumbers and squash, they do not cross-pollinate. If your watermelon plant does not have pollinating bees, wait until the weather is warmer before pruning. In the spring, bees will not be active, so the plants may not develop as well as they should. Alternatively, you can plant your watermelon plants in a high tunnel.
In Oklahoma, several types of viruses can affect watermelon production. Most of these viruses are in the potyvirus Y family, such as watermelon mosaic virus, papaya ringspot virus and zucchini yellow mosaic virus. Plants infected by potyviruses suffer losses due to stunted growth and abnormal fruit development. However, there are other types of viruses, which are largely similar in biology and management.
Powdery mildew is a common fungus that affects the leaves and stems of watermelon. Most commercial varieties are resistant to it, but the disease is a nuisance no matter what type you grow. Sprays can be effective, but be sure to follow instructions carefully. Fungicides have a short window of effectiveness, and fungus resistance develops quickly. In addition, it’s recommended that you use a combination of fungicides with different modes of action. Lastly, sulfur is effective at controlling the disease, but it’s also allowed in organic production.
Fusarium wilt is another common fungus that can cause considerable damage to watermelon crops. This soilborne fungus thrives in cool spring temperatures and closes down completely when daytime temperatures are in the high nineties. In some fields, fusarium wilt can cause a total crop loss. Fusarium wilt was first documented in Georgia around the turn of the century. Since then, the watermelon industry has developed varieties that are resistant to it. However, the disease can spread from one plant to another through seeds.
To determine the total costs associated with watermelon production, consider a sample budget for a fresh-market crop. The sample budget includes custom hire for most field work, which may be cost-effective for a small-acreage grower. Farmers with their own equipment should substitute the costs of custom hire. Below is a general summary of receipts, costs, and net returns for watermelon production. These amounts vary widely depending on production level and site-specific conditions.
The cost of a watermelon crop depends on the type of watermelon variety that the grower is growing. Many local varieties have low yields and are not suitable for shipping. When selecting varieties, consider their yield, disease resistance, and adaptation to the production area. You should set aside about $50 per acre for these expenses, which can easily exceed the production budget for a single acre. In addition, the cost of watermelon seed is dependent on the location and yield of the melon crop.
The cost of fixed assets is included in the production budget for watermelon plants. These assets typically have a multiple-year useful life and are above the business capitalization limit. Fixed assets in watermelon production include farm land, farm machinery, irrigation equipment, and vehicles. Some fixed assets are owned by the grower, and the cost of annual ownership includes depreciation, interest, property tax, and insurance. Some growers use leased fixed assets.