According to research and report from crop farmers, watermelon farming is the most cultivated crop in the world at the moment. Watermelon farming has been in existence since 4000 years back and this rounded sized fruits began appearing in ancient days Egypt. Not too long after the cultivation process of this crop in Egypt, it started spreading to other part of the word like India, Persia and some West African countries which Nigeria is one of.
However, watermelon has some nutritional benefits which make it far from just being a fruits to humans. The crop contains large nutritional benefits like iron, potassium, magnesium, Vitamin A, B, C and folic acid. The fruit have the capacity to correct metabolic deficiency and also cures heart related problems. Other research results from the crop also indicate that it comes with lycopene material that can reduce cancer risk from humans.
Other health benefits of watermelon include:
- Citrulline: Watermelon is loaded with citrulline which is ideal for the muscle. Citrulline helps sport enthusiast to prevent muscle related issue and improves their exercise performance.
- Eye care: Watermelon helps improve eye related problem and also help elder men and women prevent macular degeneration
How to start watermelon farming in Nigeria
This article guide will give you the step by step guide on how to start watermelon farming in Nigeria. We will be covering site selection process and good weather condition for watermelon, ideal soil, land preparation, seed selection, planting process, post planting, harvesting and marketing.
Site selection process: If you are ready to cultivate watermelon the first process is to select your farm site. Watermelon can be planted in any part of Nigeria but it thrives well in the northern part of the country due to its hot and dry climate. Watermelon farming is popularly cultivated in arid climate which makes it thrives well in the northern part of Nigeria.
It is best advised to start planting the crop during the start of a new raining season or towards the end of the season because of low humidity levels that comes with this climate. The southern part of Nigeria do experience their first raining season in march which is their early planting season while the northern part of Nigeria do experience their first rain of the season in may.
However, watermelon farming can be started in any season as long as there is provision for water supply through irrigation system during the dry season.
Soil: The best soil to start watermelon farming with is loamy soil. This crop thrives in this kind of soil with adequate management from the farmer.
Land preparation: after selecting your farm with good soil for watermelon the next step is to plough the farm before planting the seed. A plough is an equipment used for initial cultivation to turn the top of the soil in preparation for planting seeds.
Seed selection process: Watermelon has different types of varieties, some of the best seed for planting include:
Moon and star seed: One of the best seed in watermelon is the moon and star seed. It’s best known due to its red flesh feature
Black diamond seed: this type of seed from the crop is black in colour. It’s also healthy for the body system and comes with a luscious flesh.
Congo seed: this type of seed is high in sugar content and comes with a red flesh of content. It brings out dark green stripes and a medium green colour after its maturity stage.
Planting process: Watermelon seeds can be planted on ridges or flat lands. As we have said above that the best soil for watermelon is loamy soil but if your farm soil is clay it is advisable to make ridges for the seeds before planting. Watermelon seeds sprout in few days which make it unnecessary to use nursery method for the fruits. Also, the seed should be planted in 30cm depth for good sprouting. While selecting your farm site do not select a water logged farm because watermelon doesn’t thrive well in water logged land.
Other systems for the planting rows include:
- The spacing between each seed should be between 1 foot apart
- You should endeavour to dry the seed before planting as this makes it to be more resistant to diseases.
Post planting process: After the planting process it is important to follow up the seed growth to know the next line of action. After planting, wetting and weeding should come next. Also, the crop needs to grow faster with organic manure. Super Gro fertilizer is highly recommended here as it gives crops high yields and it works on all kind of farm produce like plantain, fish, tomato, chicken, turkey etc.
How to control plant disease on watermelon farm: Midew is a common disease that affects watermelon leaves while growing. You can make your watermelon farm immune to this disease by preventing the leaves from staying wet long enough. This can be done by stopping overhead watering while using your irrigation system.
Harvesting: Watermelon takes 3 months to reach full growth. This means farmers can plant and harvest the crop four times in a year. However, before you start harvesting your crop you must have been noticing some signs in the crop which include:
- The crop makes a dull sound while flapping it
- Dryness of the tendrils
- The bottom of the watermelon must have turned yellow from white due to its closeness to the soil while germinating.
- Also, there is always a contrast colour between the stripes when it turns ripe
Marketing: watermelon is the highest consumable fruits in Nigeria and that’s one of the reasons why research indicates that it’s the most cultivated crops in the world. There are already made market for watermelon in all Nigerian market.
Summary about watermelon farming in Nigeria
- Watermelon is nutritional to human system.
- The seed can be planted four times in a year
- Watermelon thrives in arid climates
- Watermelon is the most cultivated crops in the world
- Watermelon is profitable
- The seed thrives in loamy soil.