Watermelon, citrullus lanatus rank third among the world highly cultivated crops, superseded only by potato and tomato in that order. In fact planting watermelon made me become lazy and mono cropper. Before I started planting watermelon, my chief crops were maize, cassava, yam, cocoyam and rice. But after planting watermelon for two years, I abandoned other crops and concentrated on watermelon till today.
When you are considering quick cash in farming, watermelon is among the crops to consider. The gestation is not more than 80 days, money don come. Kudi yaazo. Cultivated all over tropical climate the largest producers are China, Turkey, Iran, Brazil and U. S. A. in that order. It is produced all over in Nigeria from Maiduguri to Lagos and from Sokoto to Calabar.
Time of planting In southern Nigeria
We have three planting seasons: Early planting is in March, Mid season planting and the most lucrative but risky is June 25 to July 15. Late season planting is August 15 to September 15 in Kwara Oyo and northern parts of Ogun state. Planting in south Ogun, that is Ilaro, Ifo, Ota, Idiropo to Badagry in Lagos is September 15 to October 15. This is
because late rains last till December in these areas.
In the Northern Parts; early season planting is in May and late season planting is July. But with functional irrigation in the north, they are able to plant throughout the year .Lake chad basin in Bornu, Hadeja river basin in Kano are the major irrigation projects turning out watermelon all year round in Nigeria. I am aware that when the price goes so high watermelon is imported into Nigeria from Niger, Chad, Benin and Togo republics.
Watermelon requires loamy soil or silt loam soil it also perform well on heavy soil if it is well-drained. It does not tolerate waterlogging at all. So if planting on heavy soil, ridging will be helpful to improve drainage. On loamy soil, we normally plant on the flat land. Plowing starts immediately on the first rain. Even if the first rain comes in January, plow the land ready for the second operation.
If the second rain comes any time after February 15th, we can plant in Lagos and southern parts of Ogun state. In other parts, Igbogila, Ayetoro, Abeokuta, Odeda and all parts of Oyo state should plant in March. Planting should stop by the end of March. If you risk planting in very early April, you may succeed but if the June rain should start before 15th of June forget it. The tendency is that either the melon will not ripe or you loose a lot to blossom and it rots. Maturity takes a minimum of 75 days. On the second rain or within the stipulated time, harrow or replow and plant immediately. Experience has shown that portions planted immediately after plowing records higher germination percentage than portions planted the following day unless there is overnight rain.