Thursday, 17 May 2012

Make Ksh 500,000 per acre in 3 months from Water melon Fruit growing in Kenya

Water melons are delicious red fleshed refreshing fruits commonly eaten as desserts. The rain fed crop is normally  harvested in August/September. Best months for planting  commercial crop is July/August to harvest in October for best price.Market is likely to be good from October @ 25 - 30sh per kg farm gate price. One acre can yield 20 tonnes x ksk25 = Ksh500,000ksh in about 3 months time. Cost of production is about 20 percent of the gross income.Nutritionally the fruit contains vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinamide and ascorbic acid. 

Water melon grows well in hot dry areas planted under irrigation, although they can grow under rain fed conditions in marginal areas. Production in high rainfall areas is also possible but requires aggressive disease control efforts. Water melon is grown as a main crop in a rotation program. Varieties common in Kenya include:-
Charleston gray: large fruits 9kg, long cylindrical in shape; skin is light grey with fine dark veins and tough hard skin which allows safe transportation. It has bright red, crisp and sweet flesh.

Sukar F1: Very popular  due to size and sweetness, average weight 7kg  
Sunday Special:seedless  water melon variety which has dark green rind colour with black stripes, flesh red colour, oval in shape, weighing about  6-10 kg.
Sugar baby: These are mainly round fruits about 4kg in weight and an ideal marketing type. It has a hard skin, dark in colour and medium red flesh which is very sweet.

Crimson Sweet: bluish green, with average weight of 4kg
Congo: Rough rind, firm fine grained flesh,  resistant to anthracnose disease. Fruits are oblong, blocky, dark green with faint  green stripes.

Land preparation should be carried out early enough to allow thorough soil settling before
planting the crop.The seed rate is about 500g/acre. Water melon fruits are normally planted in hills with a spacing of 1.5 metres between rows and 1.5 metres within rows.3 seeds are sown in each hill and latter thinned to 2 plants per hill. Manure is recommended at a rate of one medium size bucket per planting hole. DAP may be applied at a rate of  125g per planting hole at the time of sowing for vigorous growth of water melon fruits. This is an equivalent of 200kg of fertilizer per hectare. Nitrogen fertilizers are applied just before the plants start to run at the rate 0f 110kg of CAN fertilizer per hectare or 65gms per planting hill.

A second application is done just before flowering of the growing crop, at the rate of 130g per hill or 220kg per hectare. Maturity period is 4 months and planting should be timed such that harvesting takes place during the dry period for rain fed water melon growing. Maturity is reached when the tendrils opposite the fruits dies, a hollow sound is produced when slapped by hand, and the vegetative parts die. Yields of 15-30 tons per hectare are realized. Fungal diseases and melon fly are of economic importance in water melon fruits growing. Control is by using suitable pesticides.

Market for Water Melons
Major market for watermelons in Kenya is easily available in Nairobi’s City Market, Agakhan Market, Githurai Market, Kangemi and Kongowea Market that is in Mombasa. Alternatively, you can look for market in hotels and supermarkets in your locality. “There are middle-men who normally come to the farms seeking to buy your produce even before it matures,