Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is an important cucurbitaceous vegetable. Its fruit, which is also called watermelon, is an especial kind referred to by botanists as a pepo; a berry which has a thick rind (exocarp) and fleshy center (mesocarpaud eudocarp). Pepos are derived from an inferior ovary, and are characteristic of the cucurbitaceous
Watermelon can be grown in garden land, though it is a major river-bed crop as it is a common summer season crop.
The fruit contain 92% water 0.2% protein, 0.3% minerals, 7.0% carbohydrates in a 100g edible flesh.
ORIGIN OF WATERMELON
Watermelon is thought to have originated in southern Africa where it is found growing wild. It however reaches maximum genetic diversity there, with sweet, bland and bitter forms in the 19th century.
Kingdom - plantae
Phylum - Embryophyta
Class - Dicotyledoneae
Order - Cucurbitales
Family - Cucurbitaceae
Genus - Citrullus
Species - C. lanatus
Varieties of watermelon
A number of selections, varieties and hybrids are recommended for commercial cultivation. These are given below.
1. Arkra Jyotic It is a mid – season f1 hybrid. The plants bear round fruits weighing 6 – 8kg each, light green skin with regular dark green stripes, sweet flesh (11-12%TSS) with crimson – red colour.
2. Arkra Manik
Its fruits are some what round (ovary) and weigh about 6. Kg each, skin colour is light green with dull green stripes the flesh is deep red arrangement is such that its removal is easier.
3. Improved shipper
This is an introduction from America having small fruits weighing 8-10kg each. It has dark green, red flesh with moderate sweetness
4. New Hampshire midget: this is also an America introduction, having small fruits weighing 1.5 – 2-0 kg each. The fruits have light green skin with black stripes, red flesh, suited for home gardens.
Uses and Importance of Watermelon
1. Watermelon contains high levels of lycopene, an antioxidant that may help the body fight cancer and prevent other disease
2. Watermelon is a good source of vitamin A and C, and provides potassium and fiber
3. It is an excellent food for weight loss
4. It is also effective in promoting intestinal domination thereby keeping the body free from toxic wastes.
Watermelon requires hot dry climate and along growing season preferably with warmer days and cooler nights. It cannot withstand frost or very low temperature.
For seed germination, an optimum moisture and soil temperature between 25o-30oC while fruiting is better at 240-270C.
Soil requirement of watermelon
Watermelon may be grown on a variety of soils.
Ground Mulches and Row Cover
The use of black plastic mulches is recommended. Black plastic mulches control weeds, may increase soil temperature, conserves moisture, and protects fruits from ground roots.
Water melons are deep rooted in sandy soil when growth is vigorous. They require uniform irrigation for optimum growth and yield. Reduce irrigation as fruit reaches harvest stage.
It is of utmost paramount to get rid of every unwanted plant competing with watermelon.
There are several types of inorganic and organic fertilizers that can be effective in growing large and healthy watermelon.
However, the rate of inorganic fertilizer application depends on the nutrient deficiency of the plot or land.
PEST AND DISEASES OF WATERMELON
A good number of insect pest species affect watermelon some includes beetles, cater pillars, miles and thrips.
Some of the diseases tat affect watermelon includes:
1. Mosaic viruses, mosaic pattern on leaf and fruits of watermelon
2. Powdery mildew symptoms
Include green patches on older leaves.
3. Fusarium wilt: Symptoms includes following wilting and stinting of the leaves.
CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT
1. Crop rotation and planting of resistant varieties.
2. Applications of fungicides and crop hygiene
Harvesting of watermelon should be harvested at proper stage of maturity.
New Delhi. (2009), Hand book of Horticulture.
Brajeul, E. Letard, M. (1998), La filierwe experimentation concombre.
Dr. BS Tomar. (1999), watermelon and Hybrid seed production techniques
Oregon state investing.(2004) watermelon, commercial vegetable guides.