How to Fertilize Watermelons: Boost Yield and Quality

How to Fertilize Watermelons?

To fertilize watermelons, it is important to consider the soil condition and stage of plant growth.

At the beginning, use nitrogen-based fertilizer, then switch to phosphorus and potassium-based fertilizer once the plant starts flowering.

Conducting a soil test before planting is recommended to determine the best type of fertilizer, but if not done, applying 5-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of 15 pounds per 500 feet is advised.

Thoroughly mix the fertilizer into the top 6 inches of soil to prevent nitrogen burn.

Providing compost-rich soil and mulching around the plants helps with water retention.

Top dressing with general all-purpose fertilizer is recommended once seedlings emerge.

Liquid seaweed fertilizer can be applied when foliage first emerges and after the plants flower.

A second application of nitrogen is advised when the vines start running, and after the fruit has emerged, options for side dressing include a 34-0-0 fertilizer or calcium nitrate.

Avoid nitrogen-rich fertilizers once the fruit sets, and instead, use a fertilizer higher in phosphorous and potassium.

Proper watering is crucial, so provide plentiful water while allowing the top 1 to 2 inches of soil to dry out between watering.

Key Points:

  • Consider soil condition and stage of plant growth when fertilizing watermelons
  • Use nitrogen-based fertilizer at the beginning, then switch to phosphorus and potassium-based fertilizer once the plant starts flowering
  • Conduct a soil test before planting or use 5-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of 15 pounds per 500 feet
  • Thoroughly mix fertilizer into the top 6 inches of soil to prevent nitrogen burn
  • Provide compost-rich soil and mulching for water retention
  • Top dress with general all-purpose fertilizer once seedlings emerge and use liquid seaweed fertilizer when foliage first emerges and after flowering

Did You Know?

1. Watermelons are actually classified as both a fruit and a vegetable. While most people consider it a fruit due to its sweet taste and high water content, it is botanically classified as a vegetable because it belongs to the cucumber and squash family.

2. To improve the sweetness and flavor of watermelons, farmers often add a sprinkle of table salt to the soil before planting. The salt helps enhance the natural sugars in the fruit and creates a more delicious watermelon.

3. Watermelons have a unique way of signaling their ripeness. When ready, a watermelon will make a low-pitched sound when tapped, similar to the sound made by thumping your chest. This technique is often used by farmers to identify ripe watermelons in the field.

4. In Japan, watermelons are grown in molds to give them a square shape. These square watermelons are more practical for storage and transportation purposes, as they are less likely to roll and take up less space.

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5. The largest watermelon ever recorded weighed a whopping 350.5 pounds (158.8 kg) and was grown by Chris Kent from the United States in 2013. Imagine the number of refreshing slices that could be enjoyed from such a gigantic watermelon!

Choosing The Right Fertilizer For Watermelons

Fertilizing watermelon plants is essential for producing sweet and juicy melons. The type of fertilizer used depends on the current soil condition and the stage of plant growth.

At the beginning, nitrogen-based fertilizer should be used to promote healthy foliage and plant growth. Nitrogen aids in the development of lush green leaves, which are essential for photosynthesis and overall plant vigor.

However, as the watermelon plant begins to flower, it is recommended to switch to phosphorus and potassium-based fertilizers. These nutrients play a significant role in promoting fruit formation, maximizing sugar content, and enhancing the overall quality of the melons.

It is important to adjust the type of fertilizer according to the specific needs of the watermelon plants, ensuring they receive the right nutrients at the right time.

Conducting A Soil Test For Optimal Fertilization

Before planting watermelon seeds or seedlings, it is highly recommended to conduct a soil test to determine the specific nutrient requirements of the soil. The results of the soil test will help determine the best type of fertilizer and the appropriate quantities to use. Soil tests provide valuable information about the pH level, nutrient content, and the presence of any deficiencies or imbalances.

If a soil test is not conducted, applying a balanced 5-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of 15 pounds per 500 square feet is a good general recommendation. This will provide a balanced mix of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, ensuring the watermelon plants receive adequate nutrients for healthy growth and fruit development.

Properly Applying Fertilizer To Watermelon Plants

Applying fertilizer correctly is crucial to prevent nutrient deficiencies or toxicities. Once you have determined the appropriate type of fertilizer based on soil test or general recommendations, it is important to thoroughly mix the fertilizer into the top 6 inches of soil. This ensures that the nutrients are evenly distributed and readily available to the watermelon plants’ root system.

To avoid nitrogen burn, caused by an excess of readily available nitrogen, it is essential to mix the fertilizer evenly into the soil rather than applying it in concentrated amounts. Even distribution of the fertilizer helps prevent the roots from absorbing large amounts of nitrogen all at once, which can damage the plants.

Importance Of Compost-Rich Soil And Mulching

Compost-rich soil is highly beneficial for watermelon plants during their initial planting stage. It significantly enhances soil structure and helps retain water. The inclusion of compost improves the soil’s moisture-holding capacity, ensuring a consistent supply of water for the watermelon plants.

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To further boost water retention and prevent weed growth, mulching is recommended around the watermelon plants. Organic mulches, such as straw or shredded leaves, offer additional advantages. They regulate soil temperature, reducing moisture evaporation. Moreover, as organic mulch decomposes, it enriches the soil with nitrogen-rich organic matter, providing the necessary nutrients for optimal growth of the watermelon plants.

Timing And Frequency Of Fertilizing Watermelon Plants

Fertilizing watermelon plants is crucial for optimal growth and fruit development. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Timing: Top dress watermelon plants with a general all-purpose fertilizer, like 5-5-5 or 10-10-10, once seedlings have emerged or when transplanting.
  • Quantity: Apply 1 1/2 pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet of garden space to provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth.
  • Liquid seaweed fertilizer can be applied when foliage first emerges and once the plants have flowered. This organic fertilizer is rich in essential nutrients and trace elements that promote vigorous growth and flowering.
  • For continued growth, a second application of nitrogen-based fertilizer is recommended when the vines start to run, usually around 30 to 60 days after planting. This supports vine growth and helps develop healthy fruit.
  • Once the watermelon fruit has emerged, it is important to fertilize again. One option is to side dress the vines with a 34-0-0 fertilizer at a rate of 1 pound (454 g) per 100 feet (30 m) of row. Another option is to use calcium nitrate at a rate of 2 pounds (907 g) per 100 feet (30 m) of row. Side dressing should be done once the fruit has appeared on the vine.
  • Avoid using nitrogen-rich fertilizers once the fruit has set. Instead, apply a fertilizer higher in phosphorous and potassium to promote fruit development, enhance sweetness, and improve overall fruit quality.

Proper Watering Techniques For Sweet And Juicy Watermelons

Watering is crucial for the growth and development of watermelon plants. To achieve the largest, sweetest, and juiciest fruit, plentiful water is recommended. However, it is important to avoid overwatering to prevent root rot and other water-related issues.

The soil should be allowed to dry out between watering, specifically the top 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm). This allows the watermelon plants’ roots to access oxygen and promote healthy root growth. Deep, infrequent watering is beneficial as it promotes deep root development and prevents water stress. Given the high water demand of watermelon plants, it is important to ensure they receive sufficient water, especially during fruit development.

In addition to proper watering techniques, fertilizing watermelon plants is crucial for growing sweet and juicy melons. This involves choosing the right fertilizer, conducting a soil test to determine nutrient needs, applying fertilizer correctly, providing compost-rich soil, utilizing mulching, and applying fertilizer at appropriate times and frequencies. Following these guidelines will lead to successful watermelon cultivation and a bountiful harvest of mouth-watering watermelons.

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Frequently Asked Questions

When should I fertilize my watermelon?

To ensure optimum growth and fruit development, it is best to fertilize your watermelon at specific stages. One approach is to use liquid seaweed fertilizer when the leaves first appear, promoting healthy early growth. Additionally, when the vines start to spread and run, which is typically around 30 to 60 days after planting, it is recommended to apply a second nitrogen fertilizer to further support plant development and the production of juicy watermelons. By following these fertilization intervals, you can help your watermelon plants thrive and yield delicious fruits.

What fertilizer increases the fruit size of watermelon?

Studies have shown that the application of potassium nitrate fertilizer has been effective in increasing the fruit size of watermelon. This fertilizer provides the necessary nutrients for the plant’s growth and development, leading to larger and more desirable fruits. By supplying watermelon plants with potassium and nitrogen, potassium nitrate promotes healthy cell division and elongation, resulting in enhanced fruit size. Additionally, it aids in the regulation of water balance within the plant, enabling the watermelon to absorb water efficiently, further contributing to increased fruit size.

What calcium fertilizer for watermelons?

When it comes to fertilizing watermelons, the ideal choice is YaraLiva® Calcium Nitrate. This calcium fertilizer is highly recommended for melon crops due to its high availability of nitrate-nitrogen, which is the preferred form of nitrogen for most plants. Not only does it promote the uptake of other essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and potassium, but its readily available composition ensures optimal growth and development of watermelon plants. With YaraLiva® Calcium Nitrate, you can provide your watermelons with the nutrients they need for healthy and abundant fruit production.

Is cow manure good for watermelon?

Studies have shown that cow manure can be beneficial for watermelon growth. The presence of organic matter in the soil can enhance the absorption of essential nutrients by the watermelon plants. Watermelon plants grown in soil with 3.0% organic matter exhibited optimum results when supplemented with 15 kg ha-1 of K2O, whereas those grown in soil with 6.0% organic matter showed improved growth with doses ranging from 11 to 13 kg ha-1. Therefore, properly applied cow manure, with its organic content, can provide the necessary macronutrients for watermelon cultivation, resulting in healthier and more productive plants.

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