Introduction to watermelon farming in Kenya.
With high yields, short maturity period and ready market, commercial watermelon farming is being embraced by Kenyan farmers as high return cash crop.
Watermelon farming is popular in Kenya because the fruit is in high demand during hot seasons. Watermelon is ninety-two percent water, making it the ideal fruit when it is hot and one is thirsty.
With its origins in the desert of Africa, watermelon is a sweet fruit with pink, red, and sometimes yellow flesh, depending on the variety. It has a green rind and black seeds.
Health benefits of watermelon
Watermelon is one fruit where every part can be consumed, the inner red flesh, the seeds, and even the rind. The fruit is rich in vitamins A, B6, and C, amino acids, antioxidants, and potassium.
150 grams of watermelon contains:
• Vitamin C: 21% of the RDI*
• Vitamin A: 18% of the RDI
• Potassium: 5% of the RDI
• Magnesium: 4% of the RDI
• Vitamins B1, B5, and B6: 3% of the RDI
*RDI - Reference daily intake - daily nutrient intake required to meet the health needs of most of the population
It is also rich in beta-carotene, lycopene, and citrulline, an important amino acid.
The health benefits of watermelon are:-
- Helps in hydration of the body.
Your body needs to be water, at least 8 glasses a day. With 92% water content, watermelon can add to your daily water requirements.
- Helps in weight loss.
Since watermelon has high amounts of water and fibre, eating watermelon makes you feel full, hence eating less food that contains high amounts of calories and fat. Consuming food that has high amounts of calories and fat is responsible for weight gain.
- Helps the body’s PH balance.
Your body needs the PH levels to be balanced. Most food we consume is on the acid level on the PH scale. Watermelon, being alkaline, helps balance the bodies PH levels, hence improving our health and well being.
- Aids the kidney in cleansing the body.
In our daily activities, the body takes in a lot of toxins from the environment we operate in. It is the work of the kidney to cleanse the body of these harmful substances. The kidney needs calcium and potassium in this detoxifying process. Watermelon Is rich in calcium and potassium, hence eating at least 100 grams of watermelon daily will help your body get rid of harmful toxins.
- May help in improving heart health.
Studies have shown that lycopene, one of the nutrients in watermelon can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, hence improving the health of the heart. Watermelon seeds, which can be roasted in are high in magnesium, folate, iron and the good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). These good fats are good at lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.
Roasting Watermelon Seeds.
The seeds can be roasted in the oven and eaten as a snack. The process of roasting watermelon seeds is:-
- Set your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit / 163 degrees Celcius.
- Place the seeds in a baking sheet. Add olive oil salt and cinnamon. You can even add Chilli pepper, lime juice or cayenne pepper.
- Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring them halfway to ensure they are crispy.
- Helps in digestion.
Watermelon contains 7.5% fibre. Fibre helps in bowel movements, hence improving digestion.
- Lowers inflammation and oxidative stress.
Watermelon contains L-citrulline and, which are powerful anti-inflammation substances.
- Good for the skin and hair
Watermelon is rich in Vitamin A and C. Vitamin C helps the body in producing collagen, a protein that helps in having healthy supple skin and strong hair. Vitamin A helps in the creation and repair of skin cells.
- Helps in improving libido.
Watermelon rind is rich in citrulline, which helps men with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction.
To make watermelon rind tasty, sprinkle some lemon juice and chili powder and enjoy.
Watermelon Varieties In Kenya
While there are thousands of watermelon varieties worldwide, a select few are very popular in Kenya. These include:-
- Sukari F1
- Zuri F1
- Early Scarlet F1
- Sugar Baby
- Asali F1
- Charleston Grey
- Sheet Rose F1
- Andaman F1
- Crimson Sweet
- Sweet Melon Galla F1
- Moon and Stars
- Golden Midget
Zuri F1 watermelon
Zuri F1 is liked because of it’s resistance to some strains of fusarium wilt. It has a strong dark green colored rind and can weigh up to 12Kgs.
Sukari F1 watermelon
Sukari F1 Is the most popular watermelon variety in Kenya. Watermelon farmers in Kenya like it because of it’s early maturity of 80 days, Hard rind that makes it resistant to pests. The hard rind gives it longer shelf life. It is very sweet and fleshy. Sukari F1 yields between 25 to 30 tonnes.
Early Scarlet F1 watermelon
With an early maturity of 85 days, Early Scarlet F1 can weight up to 12kgs and can yield 60 tonnes per acre. It has deep red flesh, with a dark green outer rind.
Charleston Grey watermelon
Charleston Grey has a light green striped rind, with sweet red flesh. It is drought resistant and matures in 100 days. Charleston Grey can yield at least 20 tonnes per acre.
Sweet Rose F1 watermelon
Sweet Rose F1 is oval in shape, can be harvested in 100 days. It can weight between 10 and 12kgs. The flesh is deep crimson red in colour. It has a good shelf life.
With a maturity period of 90 to 100 days, the oblong-shaped orangeglo has sweet, sugary, crisp orange coloured flesh. The orangeglo watermelon can
weight upto 12kgs.
Golden Midget watermelon
The golden midget watermelon can weigh between 1 to 1.5kgs. It is characterized by a golden yellow rind with pink flesh. The fruit turns yellow when ready to harvest. It has a short maturity period of 70 days.
Moon and Star watermelon
Characterized by small circles (stars) and one or two moon shaped circles, the moon and stars watermelon has a maturity period of 90 days. It can weigh between 9 and 12kgs. It has a dark green rind, with bright yellow spots. The flesh is brilliant red in color and is very sweet. The leaves are speckled yellow in colour.
With a maturity period of 90 days, the congo watermelon can weigh 22kgs. It is a gigantic long watermelon with a dark green stripped rind.
Sugar Baby Watermelon
With a maturity period of 75 days, the sugar baby watermelon has small size fruits that do not weigh more than 5kgs. It has sweet red flesh with light green colored rind that has dark stripes. Sugar baby can yield up to 75 tonnes per acre.
Asali F1 watermelon
Asali F1 is an oblong-shaped watermelon with a dark green stripped rind. It has a maturity period of 85 days. Asali F1 yield per acre is 40 tonnes. It has a large fruit with sweet flesh. Asali F1 is resistant to fusarium rot and anthracnose.
This watermelon has a green rind with no stripes. It is suitable for growing in a greenhouse under irrigation. It has strong vines, weighs up to 8 kgs and can yield 30 tonnes per acre.
Crimson Sweet Watermelon
Crimson Sweet watermelon has a deep red sweet flesh. It can weigh between 8-10kgs and has a green rind with dark green stripes. It matures in 85 days. Crimson Sweet watermelon is resistant to fusarium rot and anthracnose.
Sweet Melon Galla F1
Sweet Melon Galla F1 has a light green juicy flesh. The rind is yellow and brown in colour. The fruit weighs one to 2 kgs. The maturity period is between 65 and 80 days. Sweet Melon Galla F1 yield per acre is 25 tonnes.
The market for watermelon in Kenya
We will be updating this article to cover:-
- Climate Requirements for watermelon farming in Kenya
- Soil Requirements for watermelon farming in Kenya
- Propagation of watermelon.
- Land Preparation, Planting in watermelon farming in Kenya.
- Irrigation in watermelon farming in Kenya
- Intercultural Operations in watermelon farming in Kenya
- Manures and Fertilizers in watermelon farming in Kenya
- Pests and Diseases in watermelon farming in Kenya
- Harvesting of watermelon in Kenya
- watermelon yield per acre in Kenya
- How to tell if a watermelon is ripe
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Useful info you've got above. Kindly do keep me posted on any development regarding melons generally. Thanx.
Excellent piece of information on water melons plus the health aspect. Keep me posted.
Good knowledge. Rich on water melon information
Very valuable, need information on soil preparation, planting and fertilizers.