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AgroStar Krishi Gyaan
Pune, Maharashtra
18 Jan 18, 10:00 AM
Guru GyaanAgroStar Agronomy Centre of Excellence
Cultivation of Watermelon and Musk Melon
Soil and weather: These crops can be cultivated in all types of soil. Sandy loam, silt, medium to black, organic soil is suitable for cultivation of watermelon. pH of more than 8, calcareous, saline, sticky soil is not suitable for cultivation as the high percentage of the soluble salts like calcium sulphate chloride, carbonate and bi-carbonate may result in the blotches on the fruits. The soil having pH between 5.5 to 7.5, well draining soil is suitable for the cultivation. These crops can even survive in the acidic soil. These crops need hot and dry climate and lot of sunlight. For growth of vines temperature between 24 degrees to 27 degrees Celsius is beneficial. If temperature changes i.e. if it goes below 18 degrees Celsius or rises above 32 degrees Celsius it badly affects growth of vines and fruit setting. If the temperature is below 21 degrees Celsius the seeds do not germinate. During the growth stage, if there is moisture and fog in the air the vines do not grow properly and there is infestation of fungal diseases. These days, these crops are cultivated throughout the year barring hot summer and peak monsoon days.
Improved varieties : watermelon : In addition to improved varieties like Sugar baby, arka manik, asahi yamato, madhu, milan, amrut, super dragon, augusta, sugar king, badshah etc. many varieties from some private companies are also available in the market. Considering the experience of these varieties they should be selected for cultivation. ‘Sugar queen’ variety by Syngenta company is very popular among the farmers in Maharashtra. Muskmelon : Pusa sharbati, arka jeet, arka rajahans, hara madhu, Durgapur madhu, Pusa madhuras, Pusa asbati, arka rajhans, arka jest, Punjab sunhari, Punjab hybrid, Leno safed, Anna malai, Haribhari etc. are recommended by universities and varieties by private companies like Boby, N.S. 910, Dipti, Sona, Keshar etc. , too have good quality and good yield, they are chosen by farmers for cultivation. Currently the variety ’Kundan’ by ‘Know your seed’ company is very popular among the farmers in Maharashtra. Seeds : Farmers generally use 1 kg water melon seeds per acre. 300 to 350 gms of seeds/acre of improved musk melon varieties are sufficient. On the other hand 100 to 150 gms of seeds per acre are needed, if hybrid variety is used. The germination is less in the winter season. The growth is slower. For that if 250 gms of seeds are soaked in 250 ml hot water and then dried and 3 gm thiram is applied to the seeds, the seeds germinate earlier by 2 to 3 days and germination is healthy. There is no dying of saplings,too. Generally the seeds germinate after 6 to 8 days. The seed treatment is necessary before cultivation. Cultivation : Considering the market demand, these crops should be cultivated between 15th December and 15th February. The fruits become ready to be sent to the market in the peak summer months of April-May. They have greater demand. So more market value is obtained. The cultivation is done by two methods. The first one is by creating saplings and the second one is the seeds are drilled directly on the raised beds. The rate of germination is less in the drilling method. So at the places where the seeds are not germinated, the seeds need to be drilled again. The growth of saplings takes place at different times, so it creates obstacles in the further crop management. It increases labour cost,too. As per the planning of cultivation, prepare saplings in coco peat trays. The saplings get ready within 21 days. Before cultivation, the land should be deep ploughed vertically and horizontally. Give 7 to 8 tonnes of well composted FYM or poultry manure per acre by adding in the soil. While preparing the raised beds, per acre 10 kg urea, 10 kg super phosphate, 10 kg potash as well as 200 kg neem cake, 4 kg zinc sulphate, 4 kg magnesium sulphate, 4 kg ferrous sulphate should be mixed in the raised beds before cultivation. After the fertilizer dose is mixed, the raised beds should be made uniform and lateral of drip irrigation should be installed in the middle and by supplying water through drip irrigation, lateral inspection should be done. After that spread mulching paper of 25 to 30 micron thickness and 4 feet breadth on the raised beds. Build up soil at the sides of the raised beds so as it does not blow away by wind. While spreading the mulching paper take care that it is parallel to the raised bed and is stretched. If the paper is loose, it can be torn off due to the wind. We might need, 4 to 5 kg of mulching paper per acre. One day before the cultivation, drill the holes on both sides of the lateral at a distance of 15 c.m.s. Keep distance of 2 feet between the two holes in one row. After the holes are drilled, water the raised bed with the help of drip irrigation set. After that plant saplings in the holes drilled. If cultivation is done by this method, approximately 6000 saplings per acre can be cultivated. Nutrient management: • 10-15 days after cultivation : 19:19:19 - 2.5-3 gms, Micro nutrients - 2.5-3 gms per liter of water • 30 days after the above spraying : 20% Boron - 1 Gram, Micro nutrients - 2.5-3 gms per liter of water • During flowering Stage : 00:52:34 - 4-5 Grams, Micro nutrients ( grade no.2) - 2.5-3 gms per liter of water • Fruit setting : 00:52:34 - 4-5 grams, Boron - 1 Gram per liter of water • Fruit growth stage : 13:00:45 - 4-5 grams, Calcium nitrate - 2-2.5 grams per liter of water The chemical fertilizers, micro nutrients dosages should be given to these crops only as per the soil testing report. Chemical fertilizers should be given in the proportion of 20 kg nitrogen, 12 kg potash, 12 kg phosphorus per acre. After 10 days, PCB, azotobacter, trichoderma 2 kg each per care should be given. Initially,the amount of fertilizers should be less.While giving fertilizers complete dose of FYM, complete dose of phosphorus and potash and one third dosage of nitrogen should be given at the time of cultivation. Remaining nitrogen should be given in two equal parts one and two months after the cultivation. The dose of soluble fertilizers should be increased gradually from flower setting stage to fruit maturity stage. Drip irrigation set should be started for one hour before giving the fertilizers. Soluble fertilizers should be given through the drip irrigation as per recommendation. Water management : These crops are very sensitive to water. In the initial phase, the need of water of these crops is less. After that along with the growth of the crops, the need of water, too increases. Ensure that there is no water stress after the fruit setting period. Plan the water and fertilizers in such way that 65% moisture is maintained in the soil and considering quality of the soil and the stages of crops. If more water than needed is given, there is more possibility of diseases. So the water should be given by take method. If water becomes excess by wetting method, there is possibility of root rot disease. Plastic cover avoids contact of fruits with the wet soil. So it does not cause injuries to the fruits. If the fruits remain at the same place, then the fruits get injured at the place where they have contact with soil. So when the fruits become bigger, they should be moved at least once before harvesting. Weed control: Weeds should be controlled by hand weeding done from time to time.Mulching helps to control the weeds as well as controls the soil temperature. So it helps for the growth of crops. Crop protection: These crops are infested by the pests like leaf miner, fruit fly, aphids, red weevils etc.Also diseases like wilt, powdery mildew, gummy Stem blight and blight etc. are observed on these crops. To protect against the diseases, before sowing the seeds should be treated with fungicide like thiram or captain or trichoderma bio disease controller @5 gm / seeds. The crops should be observed from time to time and control the pest-diseases through integrated pest and diseases management. Extra care: Ensure that after fruits are set, they do not come in contact with the water. If they come in contact with water, they get rotten. For that fruits should be kept on the elevated place between the two furrows or place chaff (dry leaves of paddy, pearl millet, wheat etc.) under the fruit. If the fruits remain at the same place, then the fruits get injured at the place where they have contact with soil. So when the fruits become bigger, they should be moved at least once before harvesting. Plastic cover avoids contact of fruits with the wet soil. So it does not cause injuries to the fruits. To protect the fruits from sunlight, cover the fruits in the farm using turmeric leaves, dry sugarcane leaves etc. Harvesting and yield : Generally the flower setting starts after 40 days and after 60 days small fruits start appearing. As far as possible keep only two fruits per vine. The fruits are generally ready for harvesting within 90 to 120 days and harvesting is over in 20 to 30 days. For 40 to 45 days, from fruit setting to the harvesting of fruits for selling, the temperature needs to be more than 30 degrees Celsius. Generally, 20 to 45 tonnes yield of watermelon can be obtained as per the variety. For musk melon generally 10 to 15 tonnes of yield can be obtained. If plastic mulching is used, the yield increases. The harvesting should be done in the morning. It helps to maintain freshness and attractiveness of fruits and they are more tasty. -Dr. Vinayak Shinde-Patil, Ahmednagar (Assistant professor, Agriculture college, Dr. V.V.P. foundation, Vilad ghat, Ahmednagar)