Sukari F1 Watermelon farming in Kenya

Sukari F1 Watermelon farming in Kenya

Agribusiness : Sukari F1 Watermelon farming in Kenya

Have you ever thought about starting a farming project in Kenya? Have you tried Sukari F1 watermelon farming.

This hybrid watermelon variety is disease resistant, high yielding and has excellent fruit quality.

Since Sukari F1 watermelon farming in Kenya is an easy business to start and maintain. Within a few months, you’ll be selling juicy watermelons at local markets and turning a healthy profit.

However, the total cost to start a one-acre Sukari F1 watermelon farm should be around Sh100,000. That includes quality seedlings, land preparation, irrigation equipment, fertilizer, and initial harvest costs.

Also Checkout: Pig farming in Kenya

With good management, you can yield over 30,000 kilograms of watermelons per acre and make Sh. 700,000 in revenue. The profit margins are high, demand is increasing, and Sukari F1 watermelons have a long shelf life so you won’t lose any harvest.

What are you waiting for?

Starting Sukari F1 watermelon farming in Kenya can be profitable agribusiness idea to start earning a living out of it. To learn more about Sukari F1 Watermelon farming in Kenya keep reading.

Overview of Sukari F1 Watermelon Variety

Sukari F1 is a popular seedless watermelon variety that originated from South Africa. It has taken Kenya by storm and become a favorite for many farmers and consumers. This sweet, crisp melon has a bright red flesh and thin, edible rind.

To start farming Sukari F1 in Kenya, first you’ll need quality seeds, fertile land, and a sustainable water source.

Since, the variety thrives in warm weather and full sun, so look for a spot with at least 6-8 hours of direct light per day.

What about Soil?

The soil should be loose, loamy, and able to retain moisture.

How does it take to mature?

For Sukari F1 variety takes 70-80 days to mature, so you’ll want to start seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost.

Once the seedlings sprout, harden them off and transplant into your garden once nighttime temps stay above 65 F. Space the plants 5-6 feet apart.

Water the melons regularly to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy.

Fertilize the plants every few weeks.

Once the melons ripen, the rind will turn yellowish and the spot where the melon rested on the ground will soften.

Harvest the melons once fully ripe and enjoy! Sukari F1 melons can weigh up to 22 pounds and are chock full of lycopene, an antioxidant that gives the flesh its bright color. The melons have a high sugar content, around 12-14%, making them irresistibly sweet and juicy.

With the right care and conditions, a 1/4 acre plot can yield over 60,000 kilograms of Sukari F1 melons in a season. At the current market price, that could give you well over 2 million Kenyan shillings in revenue! This variety is clearly worth the effort.

Climatic Requirements for Growing Sukari F1 Watermelon farming in Kenya

To grow Sukari F1 watermelons, you’ll need the right climate.

Because these juicy fruits thrive in warm weather and lots of sunshine.

Here are conditions for successful Sukari F1 Watermelon farming in Kenya

•Temperature: Sukari F1 watermelons need hot weather to produce sweet melons. Average daytime temperatures of 70 to 85 F are ideal during the growing season. Nighttime lows should stay above 65 F.

•Sunlight: Plant Sukari F1 watermelons in a spot with full sun exposure for at least 6 to 8 hours per day. More sun means faster growth and better tasting melons.

•Humidity: Sukari F1 watermelons can tolerate moderate humidity, around 50 to 70%. Higher humidity may increase disease problems.

•Rainfall: Watermelons have a high water need, so aim for at least 1 to 2 inches of rain per week. Supplement with irrigation if rainfall is lacking. Take care not to overwater, as too much moisture can lead to root rot and disease.

•Growing Season: Sukari F1 watermelons require a long, warm growing season of 70 to 120 days to reach maturity depending on your climate. Start seeds indoors 2 to 3 weeks before the last spring frost. Transplant seedlings after the chance of frost has passed.

•Fertile, well-drained soil: Plant Sukari F1 watermelons in fertile, sandy loam soil with a slightly acidic pH between 6 and 6.8. The soil must drain well and not become waterlogged.

•Low Wind: Strong winds can damage watermelon vines and fruit. Plant Sukari F1 watermelons in a spot protected from heavy or constant winds.

By providing the right climate and care, you’ll be harvesting sweet, juicy Sukari F1 watermelons from your garden in no time.

Soil Requirements and Land Preparation for Sukari F1 Watermelons

To have a successful Sukari F1 watermelon harvest, you need to start with the proper soil conditions and land preparation.

Soil Requirements

Sukari F1 Watermelon farming in Kenya can be profitable if you observe these soil requirements:

One:

Sukari F1 watermelons thrive in loose, sandy loam soils with good drainage and a slightly acidic pH between 6 to 7.

Two:

The soil should be rich in organic matter and nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Did you Know?

That watermelons also require plenty of space for their vines to spread out, so choose a spot in your garden with at least 100 to 200 square feet of open space.

Land Preparation for Sukari F1 Watermelon farming in Kenya

About a month before planting, begin preparing the soil. Till or turn the soil to a depth of at least 8 to 12 inches to loosen it and mix in compost or other organic matter. This will provide nutrition for your watermelons and improve drainage and aeration.

  • Add lime to raise the pH if your soil is too acidic.
  • Rake the area smooth and remove any large clods of soil, stones or debris.

A few weeks before planting, raise the soil temperature by covering it with black plastic sheeting. This will help your watermelon seeds germinate faster and encourage early growth. Remove the sheeting once the soil has warmed and you are ready to plant.

Space your watermelon mounds or hills 6 to 8 feet apart. The mounds should be at least 3 feet in diameter and 6 to 8 inches high. Place a handful of compost or fertilizer in the center of each mound before planting.

Once the weather has stabilized and all danger of frost has passed, you can plant your Sukari F1 watermelon seeds or seedlings. In most areas, late spring is the ideal time to plant. Sow 3 to 4 seeds per mound and thin to 2 to 3 seedlings once they sprout.

With the proper land preparation and soil conditions, your Sukari F1 watermelons will thrive and produce a successful harvest. Pay close attention to soil moisture, nutrition, and temperature for robust vine growth and sweet, juicy watermelons.

Planting Sukari F1 Watermelon Seeds

Now it’s time to plant your Sukari F1 watermelon seeds. This delicate process will determine how successful your harvest will be.

Seed selection

Choose plump, healthy seeds from a reputable local seed company. Sukari F1 seeds will produce oblong fruit with red flesh and weighing 7-10 kg. Make sure the seeds are disease-free and less than a year old.

Seedbed preparation

Prepare raised beds that are at least 2 feet high and 3 feet wide. Watermelon seeds require well-drained, sandy loam soil with plenty of organic matter to germinate and grow. The day before planting, water the beds thoroughly and let them drain. Your seedlings will need moisture to sprout, but soggy soil can cause disease.

Planting

Plant the seeds 1 inch deep, 3 to 4 feet apart. Watermelons need space for vines to spread out. Bury the seeds in small hills of soil, placing 2-3 seeds in each hill.

  • Once the seedlings sprout, thin them so the healthiest plant remains in each hill.
  • Water the beds regularly to keep the top few inches of soil moist until the seedlings are 3 inches tall.
  • After the seedlings establish, water only when the top inch or so of soil is dry. Overwatering can stunt growth.

Fertilizing and maintenance

  • Fertilize the seedlings when they are 3 to 4 inches tall and again when the vines start to run. Use a balanced fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, such as 10-10-10.
  • Once the vines start to run, prune them so that only two main vines remain in each hill. This will focus the plant’s energy on producing fruit.
  • Scout regularly for common pests such as aphids, spider mites, and cucumber beetles and treat if necessary.
  • Once the fruit starts to develop, place a board or tile under each melon to prevent rot.

If you provide the right conditions, your Sukari F1 watermelon vines will reward you with a bountiful harvest of sweet, juicy fruit. But like any crop, close attention to details from seed to harvest will make all the difference.

Fertilizer Application in Sukari F1 Watermelon farming in Kenya

To get the best yields from your Sukari F1 watermelon crop, it’s important to provide the right amount of fertilizer during key growth stages. Applying too much or too little fertilizer can reduce your harvest, so aim for the “Goldilocks zone”—not too much, not too little, but just right.

Fertilizer Application Rate

For Sukari F1 watermelons, apply fertilizer at a rate of 200 to 250 kg/ha of diammonium phosphate (DAP) or its equivalent during land preparation before transplanting. Two to three weeks after transplanting, do a topdressing of calcium nitrate at 100 to 150 kg/ha.

Timing of Fertilizer Application

The critical periods for fertilizer application in Sukari F1 watermelon farming are:

  • At transplanting: Apply DAP to provide phosphorus for root growth.
  • 3 weeks after transplanting: Apply calcium nitrate to provide nitrogen for vine growth.
  • At flowering: Apply calcium nitrate to aid fruit set and growth.
  • During fruit development: Apply potassium nitrate and calcium nitrate to improve fruit size and quality.

Methods of Fertilizer Application

The common methods of applying fertilizer in Sukari F1 watermelon farming include:

  • Broadcasting: Apply granular fertilizers like DAP by evenly broadcasting before transplanting. Bury the fertilizers in the soil during land preparation.
  • Topdressing: Apply nitrogen fertilizers like calcium nitrate by evenly spreading around the base of the plants. Follow with irrigation to wash the fertilizer into the root zone.
  • Fertigation: Apply liquid fertilizers through an irrigation system. This allows for frequent application of low concentrations to match plant needs. Care must be taken to avoid fertilizer burn.

By providing balanced nutrition through proper fertilizer application, your Sukari F1 watermelon crop will reward you with a bountiful harvest of sweet, juicy fruit. But be careful not to overfeed, or you may end up with more foliage and less fruit. Finding the right balance, like Goldilocks, will ensure your watermelon farming success.

Pest and Disease Control in Sukari F1 Watermelon farming in Kenya

Once your Sukari F1 watermelon crop is growing, you’ll need to watch out for any pests or diseases that may affect your harvest. As with any farming endeavor, prevention is the best medicine. Be on the alert for common pests and take action as soon as any are spotted.

Aphids

These small, pear-shaped insects suck sap from watermelon leaves and transmit disease. Scout for aphids on the undersides of leaves, especially new growth. Treat with insecticidal soap or spray, or release predatory ladybugs to control populations.

Spider Mites

Barely visible to the naked eye, spider mites spin webs on leaves and feed on cells. Leaves become stippled and bronzed. Increase humidity and spray with insecticidal oil or predatory mite predators.

Cucumber Beetles

Spotted and striped cucumber beetles feed on watermelon leaves and vines, and transmit bacterial wilt disease. Handpick larger beetles and apply kaolin clay or spinosad spray to deter feeding. Cover young transplants with row cover until flowers form.

Fungal Disease

Several fungi threaten watermelon crops, especially in warm, humid weather. Downy mildew causes yellow spots on leaves; powdery mildew forms white powdery spots. Scout regularly and treat with approved fungicides like chlorothalonil. Bacterial wilt, spread by cucumber beetles, causes leaves to wilt and die. Remove infected plants and control beetles to prevent spread.

By regularly scouting your watermelon patch, you’ll detect any pests or disease early on and be able to take quick action. An integrated pest management approach, using cultural, biological and chemical controls, will keep your Sukari F1 watermelon crop healthy and ensure the sweetest harvest. Staying on top of these potential threats is well worth the effort for those first juicy slices of homegrown watermelon.

Irrigation Requirements for Sukari F1 Watermelon Crop

To have a successful Sukari F1 watermelon crop, providing the right amount of irrigation is key. Watermelons need plenty of water, especially as the fruits are developing.

Watering Schedule

Watermelons should be irrigated regularly from planting through harvest. As a general rule of thumb, aim to provide about 1 to 2 inches of water per week. Increase the frequency and amount of watering as the weather gets hotter and the fruits start to develop.

Once the vines start to run, check the top few inches of soil frequently to determine if watering is needed. When the top layer is dry, it’s usually time to water. You can also check if the leaves are wilting, which is a sign the plant needs water.

  • For the first few weeks after planting, water every few days to keep the soil consistently moist while the seedlings establish.
  • During vine growth and fruit development, water 2-3 times a week.
  • Once fruits start to ripen, reduce watering slightly to improve sweetness. Only water when the top few inches of soil are dry.

Irrigation Method

The best way to irrigate watermelons is with drip irrigation or soaker hoses. These provide water slowly and directly to the soil, keeping the leaves dry to prevent disease. Avoid overhead sprinklers which can encourage fungal diseases.

Place drip lines or soaker hoses under the vines, about 6 to 12 inches from the base of the plants. This will provide water where the feeder roots are growing. Run the irrigation for 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on your soil type, to moisten the soil to a depth of at least 6 to 8 inches.

Keeping your Sukari F1 watermelon crop well hydrated, especially as the fruits develop, is the key to producing sweet, juicy melons. Pay close attention to your plants and adjust watering amounts and frequency based on your local weather and soil conditions. With the proper irrigation, Sukari F1 Watermelon farming in Kenya can be profitable agribusiness.

Harvesting and Post-Harvest Handling of Sukari F1 Watermelons

Once your Sukari F1 watermelons are ripe, it’s time to harvest them. Look for a yellow spot on the bottom of the fruit where it rested on the ground. The rind should also become slightly dull and the tendril closest to the fruit will turn brown and die back.

Harvesting

  • Use pruning shears or a sharp knife to cut the watermelon from the vine, leaving about an inch of stem attached.
  • Gently turn the watermelon over to check for a creamy yellow spot, which indicates ripeness. If it’s not quite ripe, leave it on the vine for a few more days.
  • Watermelons do not continue to ripen after picking, so only harvest when fully ripe.

Post-Harvest Handling

Once picked, watermelons should be kept in a cool area out of direct sunlight. Do not refrigerate watermelons, as this can cause chilling injury. At room temperature, watermelons will last up to 2 weeks.

  • Clean the watermelon before slicing and serving. Rinse under cool running water and pat dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • When cutting, use a sharp knife and cut the melon in half first. Then place the flat side down on a cutting board to slice or dice.
  • Remove seeds before serving for easier eating. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds in the center.
  • Enjoy your watermelon immediately or within a couple of days. Cut watermelon will last up to 5 days properly refrigerated.

To maximize the shelf life of whole watermelons, follow these tips:

  1. Choose a watermelon that is already ripe when purchasing. Unripe melons won’t continue ripening after picking and have a shorter shelf life.
  2. Store watermelon in a cool area away from direct sunlight. Room temperature is ideal.
  3. Keep the watermelon stem intact. This prevents excess moisture loss through the cut end.
  4. Place the watermelon on its side instead of upright. This positioning prevents the bottom spot from softening too quickly.
  5. Check the watermelon regularly for soft or damaged spots. Consume promptly once ripe to avoid over-ripening.

By properly harvesting and handling your Sukari F1 watermelons, you’ll be enjoying sweet, juicy fruit for weeks after picking. Let the watermelon stand out as the star of your next barbecue, picnic or family gathering.

Profitability Analysis of Sukari F1 Watermelon Farming

Costs to Consider

To start Sukari F1 Watermelon farming in Kenya, there are several costs you’ll need to factor into your budget. The major expenses include:

  • Land preparation and clearing: This includes activities like plowing, harrowing, and leveling the land. You’ll want at least 1-2 acres of land for a decent harvest. At around KSh15,000 per acre, this can cost KSh30,000-KSh60,000 total.
  • High-quality seeds: Sukari F1 hybrid seeds cost between KSh3,000 to KSh5,000 per kilogram. For 1-2 acres, you’ll need 3-5 kilograms of seeds, so budget KSh15,000 to KSh25,000. These F1 hybrid seeds offer disease resistance and the highest yield potential.
  • Irrigation equipment: Drip irrigation or sprinkler systems cost KSh50,000 to KSh200,000 depending on the size of your farm. This investment will allow you to farm year-round and increase your harvests.
  • Fertilizers and pesticides: To achieve the best yields, you’ll need to fertilize your crop during growth and control common pests and diseases. Budget KSh20,000 to KSh50,000 for quality fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Labor: You’ll need laborers to help with land clearing, planting, weeding and harvesting. Expect to pay KSh250-KSh500 per worker per day. For 1-2 acres, you may need 4-6 workers for 30-45 days, costing KSh120,000 to KSh270,000 in labor fees.
  • Additional costs: This includes things like transportation of inputs and produce, farm tools, irrigation pipes, and other miscellaneous expenses. Budget at least KSh50,000 to KSh100,000 for these additional costs.

The total cost to start Sukari F1 Watermelon farming on 1-2 acres in Kenya can range from KSh300,000 up to KSh700,000, depending on the level of investment in equipment and irrigation. While the upfront costs may seem high, the potential returns from this high-value cash crop make it a very profitable venture. With good management, you can earn over KSh500,000 from an acre of Sukari F1 Watermelons.

Conclusion

So there you have it, everything you need to know to get started with Sukari F1 watermelon farming in Kenya. While it will require an investment of both time and money, the potential rewards of growing this popular and prolific crop make it worth considering. If you go in with realistic expectations, do your research, find a suitable plot of land, and properly care for your crop during the growing season, you’ll be well on your way to harvesting sweet, juicy watermelons and building a successful business. Who knows, maybe a few years from now people will be coming to you for advice on the ins and outs of Sukari F1 Watermelon farming in Kenya. The possibilities are as open as the Kenyan countryside. All that’s left to do is take that first step. What are you waiting for?