Water melon is a very common cool and delicious summer fruit
that generally grows in light and well drained soil. Traditionally,
water melon is grown in sandy soil or sand in riverbeds. Water melon belongs to the cucurbits family that grows as long vines on the soil surface.
Nutritive Value and Uses: Water melon contains the highest percentage of water among all fruits. However this water contains a lot of minerals and vitamins that have a cooling effect on our body. Water melon contains 95.60 percent water and the remaining 4.40 percent contains small proportions of protein, fats, minerals,
vitamins, fibers, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, copper, sulphur, thiamine, etc.
Soil and Climate: Water melon is grown in sandy soil with soil pH ranging from 5.5 to 7.0. It can be grown well in river beds on sand ridges where water is provided through trenches to avoid direct contact with growing vines and developing fruits.
Water melon requires a relatively warm temperature and has a long growing season. That is why water melon is grown in summer months. The seed does not germinate satisfactorily below 21 °C and below 9.5 °C the plant can be severely damaged.
Varieties under Cultivation: There are two important varieties of water melon grown. Asahi Yamato has heavy fruits weighing, on average, 5 to 7 kg each. Fruits have green to light color stripes outside and blood red color flesh inside. This is a high yielding variety with small seeds. Sugar Baby is another variety having dark
green to black skin color outside and dark red flesh inside. Fruits weigh, on average, 3 to 5 kg each.
Plantation and Manuring: Seeds of water melon are sown directly in the raised bed prepared for cultivation from November to March. Three to four seeds are sown at each spot and after germination and some growth, plants are spread thin keeping one plant at each spot. If we want a limited but good quality fruits, then fruits on
vines are also spread thin, keeping a limited number of fruits on a vine.
Use 2 kg of well decomposed farm yard manure or compost mixed with 1 kg of neem seed cake or ground nut cake applied in rings around the plant which can boost the growth of the plant. The concentrated manure cakes applied two to three times play an especially important role at the time of fruit setting, growth and development.
Plant Protection: Water melon is attacked mostly by insect pests like beetles, cutworms and aphids found underneath the leaves. Beetles eat the leaves, cutworms cut leaves and stems and aphids suck the sap from the tender leaves and the stem of the vine. Neem cake at the rate of 200 g per plant mixed with soil in the basin of the plant can provide adequate protection from these insect
pests. All member crops of the cucurbit family including water melon can be affected by powdery mildew and downy mildew diseases which ause a powdery growth and tissue necrosis on leaf lamina esulting in total failure of the crop. These diseases can be controlled by spraying a Bordeaux mixture prepared from an equal quantity of copper sulphate and calcium carbonate.
Harvesting: When the outer skin of water melon fruits changes color from green to light and shining. The stem starts developing cracks at the base of the fruit and when gently beaten, the fruit gives a metallic sound indicating it is ready for harvesting. Fruits should be harvested keeping 2 cm of the stem intact. On average, depending on feeding, one vine can produce as many as 5-6 average size fruits.