Watermelon - agricultural technology, interesting facts about the plant and the best varieties
Watermelon and summer are inseparable concepts. However, far from every section you will find melon. And all because this African plant takes up a lot of space, it is quite demanding both for heat and the sun, and also for competent watering. But still, watermelon is so loved that today it was learned not only by southerners, but by far more northern “exotic lovers”. It turns out that you can find an approach to such a moody plant, and if you want, you can get a decent harvest.
Botanical description of the plant
Watermelon ordinary, or table watermelon (Citrúllus lanátus) refers to the genus of the same name Watermelon from the many-sided Pumpkin family. It is a melon culture, which is grown in more than 130 countries of the world. Around the world, about 3.5 million hectares are allocated each year to watermelon!
Watermelon has a superficial root system. Long creeping branched stems (lashes). Sufficiently large, on long stalks, triangular-ovate rough leaves. Most varieties of watermelon form bisexual flowers pollinated by bees, which bloom throughout the summer.
The fruit of the watermelon is a juicy polyspermous pumpkin with a smooth surface. In different varieties, it has a different shape: round, elongated, cylindrical. The color of the fetus also varies - it can be whitish, green, yellow with stripes or spots, almost black. The pulp is raspberry, orange, red, pink-orange, pink, yellow, white.
Today, seedless watermelons are gaining more and more popularity. These hybrids are not the result of genetic modification, but are just plants with three sets of chromosomes from crossing tetraploid (4 sets of chromosomes) and diploid parents (2 sets of chromosomes).
Fact! Wild ancestor of watermelon - colocintgrowing in Africa. At home, it is a perennial with numerous round fruits, weighing no more than 250 g. Some of the varieties are bitter and partly tasteless, some are poisonous, but some have a pleasant, although not as sweet, as we used to, shade.
Useful properties of watermelon
Ripe watermelon is not just a delicious dessert - it is a natural medicine. Its calorie content is not high, but the chemical composition is amazing! Folic acid, iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, easily digestible sugars, pectins, organic acids make the consumption of watermelon pulp useful for improving the blood, cardiovascular system, digestive organs, endocrine glands.
Watermelon pulp is used to remove excess moisture from the body, cleanse the kidneys and liver, and restore acid-base balance. It is a good diuretic, mild laxative and choleretic. In addition, the consumption of pulp provides a slight anti-inflammatory effect, improves the digestive tract, removes cholesterol.
No less useful is the peel of the watermelon, especially the white pulp located immediately below the green crust - it removes moisture and stimulates the intestines.
Watermelon seed oil contains a number of useful acids and in its composition is very similar to almond seed oil, olive to taste. “Watermelon milk” (ground seeds) - used for fevers and inflammation of the urinary tract.
Finds the use of watermelon in cosmetology. Masks from pulp tone, refresh, nourish tired skin, improve its color, make it more elastic. “Watermelon milk” smooths age spots and freckles.
Fact! Up to 2.5 kg of watermelon can be consumed per day. The annual consumption rate is 8-16 kg.
Ways to consume and process watermelons
The quality of a watermelon depends on various factors, but first of all, on the climatic conditions for growing this crop. Thus, fruits grown in the southern regions are distinguished by a higher amount of dry matter, sugars and vitamins than those grown to the north. Late-ripening varieties and hybrids are considered the most delicious - they are the ones who have the highest tasting score.
For most of us, it is most common to consume fresh watermelons as a dessert. But in fact, you can eat it with bread, as the main dish, in various ways to prepare for the winter.
“Watermelon honey” is prepared from watermelon, evaporating the pulp of ripe fruits to a state of viscous consistency, pastille. Jam is cooked from crusts. From thick-bred varieties make candied fruits. Late varieties and hybrids sour. Watermelon peels are dried for the winter.
Fact! Watermelon ‘Pepquinos’ grows in South America. Its dimensions are impressive - no more than gooseberries. It resembles cucumbers to taste, therefore it is used in salads!
Agricultural Technology Watermelon
The agricultural technology of watermelon varies slightly depending on climatic conditions. For this reason, before buying seeds, it is better to ask: how to properly grow watermelon in your area.
Direct seeding in open ground
When choosing a watermelon variety, it is imperative to focus on the timing of its ripening. If for the south you can experiment with almost any variety, then the north, the earlier your preferred variety or hybrid should be.
When considering a candidate for cultivation, pay attention to its other characteristics - resistance to major diseases and overriding.
Fact! A number of early ripening varieties and hybrids have their drawback - rapid overriding. A watermelon lying in the sun becomes cloying, its flesh “wrinkles”.
The place under the plant must be selected open, protected from strong winds and flooding - the culture does not tolerate high humidity. The land on the selected site should be well-cultivated, light, preferably sandy, the best option is sandy and sandy loamy soils. Good predecessors for watermelon are cabbage and legumes.
For sowing, it is better to take seeds that are several years old - fresh sowing material gives strong plants with a small number of fruits.
It is better to prepare a bed under a watermelon in advance, in the fall: dig it up, add organic matter. In the spring you can add wood ash.
Fact! Forgot the ripening time of the planted variety? In precocious watermelons, flowers are formed starting from the sinus of the 4th leaf. In mid-season - from the 15th. In later ones - from the 20th.
The best way to plant a watermelon is to sow the seeds directly into the ground. Why? Because the watermelon does not suffer even minor damage to the roots, which is almost impossible to avoid when transplanting seedlings to the beds. However, where direct sowing is not possible, one still has to grow the seedling method.
When sowing watermelon seeds to a permanent place, it is very important to guess with the due dates - the earth should warm up to + 15 ° C, and the threat of the last frost should pass. The planting scheme may vary depending on the variety's potential: to be ordinary - 150x100, 200x150, 300x200 cm or square-nest - 70x70, 80x80, 100x100, and even 200x200 cm.
Seeds are sown in wells of several pieces. After the emergence of seedlings, and then also after the development of 3–4 true leaflets, the seedlings are thinned out, leaving the most developed. If there is a risk of cold nights, install arches over the watermelon and cover them with foil.
If a seedless watermelon is sown, ordinary varieties are planted for pollination at a rate of 3: 2.
Growing watermelon seedlings
For seedlings of watermelon, large containers are selected to accelerate the development of plants: the bottom of five-liter plastic bottles, 500 mg glasses ... Seeds are pickled, soaked or hardened, placed in a light nutrient substrate. To accelerate the emergence of seedlings, provide a temperature of + 20 ... + 25 ° C.
After germination, the temperature is slightly reduced, watering is carried out under the root, with warm water (+ 15 ... + 20 ° C), infrequently and not abundantly, so as to moisten the earthen lump. Organize illumination, providing plants with a 12-hour daylight.
As soon as the first pair of true leaflets appears, the plants are treated with a fungicide against root rot and peronosporosis, as well as a growth stimulator to stimulate the formation of the root system. Before planting in the ground, fertilize or again process with a growth regulator.
Watermelon seedlings are transplanted into the soil when 3-5 real leaves are formed. Before planting, the plants are hardened for two weeks. When planting, they monitor so as not to deepen the root neck.
Fact! Watermelon through seedlings is grown not only in the case of a short summer, but also if in the spring there is an excess of moisture on the site.
The issue of feeding this culture is controversial. By its nature, watermelon is a plant of poor soils, and therefore can do without the introduction of additional fertilizers. However, it is not uncommon that the first feeding is carried out with a solution of chicken droppings or mullein, when the plants begin to form lashes. The next - when they begin to form an ovary - phosphorus-potassium fertilizers.
Watermelon is not often watered, under the root, with warm water. As soon as the ovary starts growing, watering completely stops. Pinch the scourges. Shoots on which an ovary has not formed are removed.
If there are few bees in the area or the weather is cloudy, watermelons are pollinated manually. To do this, cut off the petals from the male flower and touch the middle of the pestle of the female flower, or pollinate with a soft brush, cotton swab.
If the flower is not pollinated, the ovary disappears, and if pollinated, it grows. The most intense fruit growth is observed in the first three weeks. Watermelon sugar accumulates 15-20 days. The more moisture in these periods, the longer the ripening process, the more heat - the shorter.
Where the weather is not stable, watermelons cover up by the end of summer. The plant does not like temperature extremes and especially sharp cooling, +15 ° C is already stress for him. The optimal indicators are the interval from + 25 to 30 ° C.
Watermelons in the greenhouse
In open ground, this culture is grown even in the middle lane. But for the Urals and Siberia it is not available. However, if you really want to, then it is quite possible to get "your watermelons" from the greenhouse.
For details on how to grow watermelons in a greenhouse, read the article Watermelon in a greenhouse.
The ripening period of watermelons varies depending on the variety, but in general is 32–45 days. From 30–40 days, the fruit begins to accumulate sweetness, so you should not rush with its removal. The melon growers have a rule: it is better to remove 7 days later than before, since during storage the flesh will turn a little redder, but it will not become sweeter.
The early varieties of this culture are harvested selectively, as the fruit ripens, middle and late - often one-time. The easiest way to understand that a watermelon is “ready” is to lightly tap on its barrel. There is a ringing - everything, sweetness typed, can be carried on the table. However, in fact, there are much more ways to determine the maturity of a watermelon and, if mass harvesting, they are useful.
Additional characteristics of ripeness in this culture is the drying of the antennae near the peduncle, the drying of the tail itself. In varieties with stripes - a clear manifestation of the pattern of watermelon peel. In varieties with an unexpressed pattern, evenly colored, for example, the well-known Variety Ogonyok variety - lightly rubbing off a bluish coating with your hand, as well as changing the color of the side on which the watermelon was lying on the ground, from white to yellow; Acquisition of a specific shine by a crust (unripe watermelon mat).
And a few more important rules. If watermelons are supposed to be stored, they must be collected no earlier than 5 days after rain, otherwise they may rot. Only ripe fruits are selected - overripe and unripe ones quickly deteriorate and practically do not lie.
Storage conditions for watermelon
Various factors influence the duration of storage of watermelon: the characteristics of the variety, the climate of the growing zone, the technology of cultivation, the quality of the harvest. If the watermelon grew on dry land, if it was not stimulated by nitrogen fertilizers, then it will lie longer. If the sowing was late, if the watering continued during the entire growing season and nitrogen fertilizing was present - less.
Equally important for long-term storage is the quality of the fruit assembly - any scratch is the “door” for infection. Therefore, it is necessary to remove and transport the crop carefully, laying the fruits in one layer, on a soft (straw) bedding.
On average, the most common varieties in private gardening are able to lie for about a month - 25-35 days. Separate late varieties and hybrids - about four months: "Atlant", "Snowball", "New Year's".
The optimal storage conditions for watermelon is a cool room with a temperature in the range + 2 ... + 8 ° C, the relative humidity in the region of 80-85%.
Fact! The largest weight of watermelon - 61.4 kg in the European continent was recorded in the Krasnodar Territory of the variety "Russian size".
Today, one of the most common and difficult to determine diseases of watermelon has become mosaic viruses - Watermelon mosaic virus (WMV) - the peel of the fruit becomes patterned, and Marrow mosaic virus (MMV) - the leaves wrinkle. As well as the cucumber mosaic virus, the leaves are wrinkled, curled upside down, light areas appear on them, plant growth is inhibited, flowering is weak, yellow-green mottling and dark “warts” appear on the fruits.
The causative agent is the fungus Erysiphe cichoracearum DC. cucurbitacearum. The disease begins to manifest itself in early summer. He likes temperature changes and dry air. Appears in the form of whitish mealy increasing spots. Affected leaves turn yellow and dry.
Peronosporosis (downy mildew)
The causative agent is the fungus Pseudoperenospora cubensis Rostowz. It appears in the form of angular spots on the upper side of the leaf, on the lower side of the spots a grayish sporulation is formed on the spots.
The causative agent is the fungus Fusarium oxysporum Schl. f. Niveum Bilai. It penetrates plants through the root system, through infected seeds. It can occur throughout the growing season, from seedlings to harvesting, as well as during storage. Likes cool, wet weather.
Symptoms: first, the tops of the lashes and individual leaves fade, brown stripes form from the root neck along the stem, the plant fades.
White rot (sclerotic rot)
The causative agent is the fungus Sclerotnia scleotiorum (Lib.) D. By It provokes decay of the roots and completely of the whole aerial part of the plant. The onset of symptoms begins with darkening of the stems, the formation of watery spots on the leaves and fruits. Then, a cotton-like coating appears on the affected tissues, in which sclerotia of the fungus forms.
The causative agent is Ascochyta melonis Pot. It appears in the form of whitish or grayish spots with a brown border, on which dark pycnids form over time. Affected leaves turn yellow and dry.
The causative agent is the fungus Botritis cinerea Pers. Symptoms of the disease are vague brown-green rotting spots on leaves and fruits, which over time become covered with a dark gray sporulation of the fungus. However, in dry weather, the spots look like brownish, dry ulcers, the necrotic tissue of which cracks and falls out.
It is especially evident in rainy years on irrigated areas or in lowlands with stagnant moist air. The causative agent is the fungus Colletotrichum lagenarium E. et H.
Symptoms: brown spots with yellow bordering appear on the leaves. Affected leaf plates become brown, brittle. On fruits, pressed brown spots in wet periods are covered with a pinkish bloom. On the stems, the spots have an oblong shape and a copper-red color.
Pitious rot of watermelon fruit
Pythium Pringsh fungi cause the disease. A dense white mycelium appears on the fruits, which over time can cover the entire surface of the watermelon.
Watermelon, like other cultures from the Pumpkin family, damages over 50 species of phytophages. Wireworms, pseudopowders, larvae of the sprout fly, different types of grub, bear bear damage seeds and seedlings.
During the growing season on a watermelon, you can find melons and gourds, spider mites, whiteflies, tobacco thrips, different species of scoop, meadow moth caterpillars. The most dangerous are winter shovels, grubs, wireworms, and false strangers.
A brief overview of some interesting varieties and hybrids of watermelon
Watermelon "Sugar Baby"
One of the most popular and unpretentious varieties. Suitable for cultivation in almost all areas, including indoors. Ultra early. Sweet. The pulp is granular, loose, juicy. The mass of the fetus is 4-6 kg. Resistant to a wide range of diseases.
Early ripe. Suitable for growing in almost all areas, including in the greenhouse. The mass of fruits is about 2 kg. The pulp is sweet, juicy. The crust is thin.
Mid-season. Harvest. Resistant to major diseases. It features high keeping quality and portability, as well as a “reference” taste. The average weight of the fetus is about 7 kg. Suitable for growing in greenhouses.
Late. Unpretentious. Resistant to disease. With a bright taste. The mass of one fruit is about 4 kg. Suitable for both outdoor and indoor use. It is easily stored until the New Year holidays, without losing its taste.
Muscat flavored watermelon. Record holder for the amount of glucose and fructose. Ultra-precocious.
It has a bright yellow flesh with a small number of seeds and a lemon tint of taste. The average weight of the fetus is 3-4 kg.
Fact! According to the latest data, a watermelon has over one thousand two hundred varieties and hybrids, varying in the color of the peel and pulp, in size, flavor, and ripening time. And some of them, for our convenience, do not even have seeds. This is such an amazing culture!