Secondary topics related to watermelon cultivation

Dear forum friends,


My icebox variety (Pahuja-Suman 235)watermelon crop which is one month old has started flowering since one week. I can see quite some female flowers on 40% of plants.

  • As I am a bookish weekend farmer, read some literatures and came to know that honeybees are very important for pollination of female flowers and that each female flower must be visited atleast 15 times for it to get fertile and produce healthy fruit which otherwise result in malshaped fruits or early fruit drop etc.
    I see rarely any honeybees in my farm and am little concerned. Please advise me if there is any other alternative to pollinate female flowers other than hand pollination which I assume is quite laborious.

  • For next crop I will try to add bee hive in the farm. Guide me where I can get a hive in Karnataka and how to manage it.

  • I have stopped all pesticide sprays from last 10 days to welcome honeybees. On contrary I have witnessed symptoms similar to bacterial wilt offlate in very few plants. What action should I take in this regard?

  • Also please advise me on how many fruits can I have on each plant. I can see 3 to 4 vines on each plant on an average.

  • Please share reliable buyers list and contact numbers from across states or any other effective marketing channel which can fetch better profits.

  • How should the agreement with buyers be made and what are the points which I need to be careful at while making sale terms?

  • Can anyone please share tabulated fertilizer schedule which includes Major, secondary & micro nutrient programme weekwise/daywise + pest/disease control measures? This info would be of great help to many freshers like me.

  • To get comparatively promising quality yield, I came across couple of improvised techniques on internet viz., use of Row covers & Plastic sheet covering the entire row till flowering (on top of poly mulch sheet) to minimize pest/disease problems for at least 20-25 days. I would request the expert advise in this regard about the probable costs involved, practicality & scientific way of using/reusing these vis-a-vis their benefits. Kindly throw some light.

Has anyone got near to promising results with non-chemical pest/disease control? If yes, please share pest/disease wise control measures spreading through out the crop cycle.

I know I am asking for a little too much but these are the queries that are haunting me and hope many others like me.

Your advise would be very much helpful in this hour of confusion.

Thanks & Best regards

see attached PDF
watermelons.pdf (182 KB)

Dear Friends,

While my watermelons are struggling with insufficient pollination due to scanty honeybee population, I got this question as to how people who manage to grow watermelons or any other crops in greenhouse get their crops pollinated. Please throw some light. There must be a way I guess.



Dear Sri Guruprasad,

pollination in green houses, is not successful with honey bees. For vegetable cultivation, GH farmers in India are using vibrators, manually shaking the supportive rods, etc…, to get the flowers pollinated, in India.

In Netherlands, Israel, USA, etc countries, Bumble bees are introduced in the Green Houses and it is Perfect in doing required pollination.Unfortunately, in India Bumble bees are not permitted yet for pollination, and it is in process.Hope ,may be cleared soon by Government  of India and Bumble bees will be imported.

Very good pollination took place with bumble bees and we can get good yields for vegetable crops, including water melons. .

with best wishes,  g.p.rao,  farmer

Thank you G.P.Rao sir for the valuable information.

I hope bumble bees will not sting :slight_smile: .

I would like to also share this incident with the forum. When I consulted my regular fertilizer shop regarding the poor pollination, he just gave me a 5 gm bottle of gibberlic acid and asked me to mix in tender coconut water. Mix this solution into 200 Ltr of water and spray on crops. He also asked me to spray cytozyme by SPIC company. I doubted that he may simply be trying to push the product. Please share the influence of gibberlic acid or cytozyme on pollination.
Can these chemicals be some king of artificial pollinators using which natural pollination may not be essential?


Both are growth promoters and a sort of harmones/steroids like. They can not do pollination.

Pollination means, mechanically the male pollen to be in touch with female organ in the female flower.It is a rude explanation. Technically , only Dr Chandra, Dr Ramu and other technical authorities should explain about pollination.

with best wishes ,  g.p.rao,  farmer

Thanks again G.P. Rao sir.

Today I called up the fertilizer shop and checked with him if gibberlic acid(GA) or cytokinin (CPPU) would help the watermelons to grow despite fertilization by pollen transfer from male to female. I couldn’t quite understand his explanation when he said that the watermelons will continue to grow with the application of either GA or CPPU without wanting the female flower to get fertilized except that the fruits which fail to get fertilized through pollen would be seedless.
That was too much of an explanation for an engineer to digest the plant anatomy so I just withdrew my discussion with him as he also started showing a bit of irritation with my queries.
If someone can complete this thread with technical explanation for above theory, that would be great.

Are there any varieties in watermelon which are capable of self pollination or that wouldn’t require fertilization for fruit to grow?

Also, the fertilizer person suggested to use GA and CPPU in combination with some proportions to get good size, more fruits per vine & hence yield. My query towards this point is wouldn’t the fruits develop more risk to get cracked in the process of accelerating the growth under the influence of these growth promoters?

Please help to understand.


Watermelon is generally monoecious plants - A single plant carries both female and male flowers …Some time hermaphrodite flowers that carry both male and female reproductive parts in the same flower…

As a matter of fact , self pollination - transfer of pollen from male flowers to female flowers in the same plant is the order of procreation in watermelon …

However the rate of self pollination is between 30 to 35 % only and it needs badly some outside influence to carry the pollen - here it is bee that needs to visit a female flowers for atleast 10 to 15 times to dust more than enough pollen grain over the stigma ( female floral part ) to ensure complete fertilization of many ovules present in the single female flowers that later gets converted and develop into seeds as  watermelon keeps growing …The partial fertilization will make the fruits mishappen or futile …Same is the case in Capsicum ( Bell pepper ) also …

Now a days the MNC seeds companies developed watermelon varieties that are mostly gynoecious ( More female flower production potential ) …However it needs to be fertilized with good amount of pollen from male flowers …

Coming to the point , the GA3 called Gibberellic acid has the potential to influence hormonal changes inside the water melon that convert the male flowers into female flowers ,thus more fruits per plant/ vine

The tender coconut water is rich in lot of aminoacids, vitamins and even minerals …specific to the point it contains cytokinenin and IAA that promote and escalate cell division and enlargement and vine growth …

It is not just alone the reason for induction of more female flowers …Now a days use of more nitrate fertilizers too has significant role in inducing more flowers by effecting necessary hormone changes in the plant physiological process …

Each watermelon plant produce 3- 4 vines and each vines produce 3 to 4 or 5 female flowers that develop into melon …However it is wise to leave 1 or 2 fruits per vine if fruit size if big and 2- 3 fruits if fruit size is small …

On an average a singel water melon plant will produce 5 to 7 healthy fruits …

The plant population per acre will be 1000 plants each producing an average 3 vines with average of 2 -3 fruits per vine with individual fruit weight of 3-4 kgs

So per acre yield of  watermelon in good agriculture practice will be 1000plants* 3 vines* 3 fruits *3 kgs= 27,000 kgs …The yield range is 18 MT to 36 MT per acre per season …

Thanks Ramu sir for educating me and the forum members alike.

So the bottom line is that we need invariably external agents like honey bees for procreation due to the fact that watermelon does not produce hermaphrodite flowers like Taiwan Red Lady Papaya (plz correct me if I am wrong).

And use of pesticides during flowering will have repulsive effect on honeybees/kill honeybees. Will the use of organic pest control measures solve this issue i.e., will organic pesticides have no detrimental/repulsive effect on honeybees?

Recent updates of my watermelon crop:
As rightly pointed by Ramu sir, I observed on an average 4 vines per plant and each vine has around 4 to 7 small female fruits (size of single garlic clove not whole). Around 10% of fruits in the field are misshapen which are around a tomato size and close to the starting point of vine and another 10% of fruits have holes drilled by some pest.
My query here is:

  • Is it OK to remove the fruits which are too close to the starting point of vine OR are these the fruits which will have better weight going forward?
  • Is it OK to remove the misshapen fruits or should I wait for them to bear normal shape gradually-are there chances of this?
  • What is the chemical/organic way to control pest which has drilled holes in small melons?
  • Should I pinch the tip of the all the vines to get good weight of the existing fruits? If so, when to pinch and at what distance from the tip should I pinch?
  • At what stage should I stop using systemic pesticides which go inside the plant?
  • Is it just enough to cut the vines selectively which has symptoms of virus or should I remove whole of the plant even if other vines doesn’t show symptoms?

From yesterday, I am fertigating the vines with 13:0:45 fertilizer (5 Kgs everyday for 12,000 plants(1 Hectare) planned for next 10 days) and then planning to give calcium nitrate 5 kgs everyday for another 10 days. Suggest the change in dose of fertilizer if this needs correction.

Reason for so many queries is

  1. I am a fresher
  2. I am planning to stick to cucurbitae crops in the long run so want to learn the art :-).

Thanks Again, Indebted to this forum and the kind hearted experts


Dear Dr Ramu sir,                                              Great. This , our forum needs. When ever your time permits, pl educate all of our forum farmer friends, regarding required technical aspects.                                            With best wishes,  g.p.Rao,    farmer

Dear all,

This weeks update:

  • Fruits came up well ranging from 1/4 kg to 1 Kg.
  • Learning of this week:
                a. Fruit thinning is very very important activity especially during fruit setting time.
                b. In summer, need to pay more attention to aphids & virus problems.
                c. Found watering in the evening more beneficial instead of day due to hot weather (40 degree Cels.).
                d. During & after fruit setting, everyday monitoring is a must. Watermelon crop can cost a lot to weekend farmers :wink: . One week can change 
                    the entire game.
  • Observed rind worms/some larvae which are causing degradation of superficial appearance of fruit by eating outer layer of the fruit. Please suggest control measures for this. I have attached the photos of the same. Also please help me identify the pests and corresponding control measures.

Thanks one and all.


Great…please keep your momentum …

Sure Ramu sir. I am just keeping my fingers crossed for a better yield.

Please help me identify the pests in the attached pics & control measures for next time atleast.

I see 80% of rindworms below the fruit. Spraying pesticide doesn’t seem to have reached these pest which lay below the fruit. How to tackle this issue. Please advise.

Please also educate me on different feasible marketing channels and points to take care while negotiating with buyers. This is next vital step for me. Please share your experience/contacts of buyers.


Dear Sri Guruprasad,                                          Afraid, Bumble bees do not sting.  Very good and useful pollinators, especially in poly/green houses.                                              With best wishes,    g.p.rao,  farmer.

Dear Pal

The watermelon rind worm infection is a result of not one particular worm…It is a complex of worms resulting from multiple insect species called , Cucumber beetle , Wireworm and beet army worm …

Control : Spray " Voliam XPress " - a combination chemical containing " Lamdacyhalothrin plus chlorantraniliprole "…For exact dose please refer the direction given in the chemical container …Also remember that you should not harvest melon within 7 -10 days of spray operation …

Alternative chemical -Vetica ( Flubendiamide + Buprofezin )

An update on my watermelon crop + one learning (Day 55):

Yesterday we got showers for 15 minutes at around 4 pm when it was still hot. All was well until the next day morning. But things started changing as the day started getting hotter i.e., by around 11 am next morning more than 25% of the developing fruits showed signs of sunburn to the extent that they seem to be unfit for marketing (my assumption).

** Learning is that I should not plan my crop whose harvest falls in severe hot summers. It takes one day to change the entire game.

  1. Is there anyway a this stage to reverse the damage?
  2. If the damage cant be reversed, any precautions to exercise right-away to minimize damage?
  3. What cost-effective precautions to be taken to save from sunburn when we imperatively have planned the harvest during hot summers?

Kindly share you advise.


Dear Sri Guru,
Up to my knowledge, your plantation is in right time.

For sun burn problem,  firstly spray Kaolin @ 3 or 4 gms per Ltr water ,to be sprayed on fruits while they are at 2 inch size, secondly when they are at 3 inch size and finally while they are at  4 inch dia. OR we can staple butter paper to the fruits at 2 inch dia .

Any one of the above will solve the sun problem.

This is adopted by me earlier for my pomegranate , and musk melon crops and is practicable. Pl try sir.

With best wishes,  g.p.rao,    farmer

Thank you sir for the timely advise.

My harvest is in another 3 to 4 days. Can I spray Kaolin now?

What is butter paper, where it is available & what is the approximate cost? Please comment.


Dear Sri guru,

There is no use now, if you spray Kaolin now. It is for precutionery only. Time is up sir.

At least for future crops,  you can think of Kaolin spray on any fruits, at their early tender age only ( at 1 or 2 inch dia size only.)

Butter paper is nothing but  wax coated paper. It can with stand for ordinary rains. It will be little thicker than ordinary paper and as wax coat is there ,water will not stay on the butter paper.

For example, take A4 size or half size of the butter paper ,fold it around the small fruit ,in as bottom open condition and staple it at top fold. Means the folded paper will hang to the stem by covering that small fruit all around. Then there is no scope for sun scald. Apart, it acts very well for fruit borer , succing pest control etc.

The butter paper is available in avenue road, raja market ( behind Cauvery bhavan ), Bengaluru and the price is reasonable only. May cost 30 to 50 paise each.

The quality of the fruit , the shiny colour of the fruit, while marketing will be excellent and it fetches few rupees more per fruit. In Horti/fruit culture, apart from taste, look plays a vital role and pays good prices to the farmer.

With best wishes,  g.p.rao,  farmer

Dear G.P. Rao sir,

Thanks for educating me on butter paper & Kaolin. Next time I will plan to use.
You are very very true that superficial appearance of fruit i.e., shining, colour & weight command the price. Even a slight variation will bring down the price considerably.
As an update, due to rind worm causing superficial damage to my watermelon I had to give away the crop for 4.5 Rs/Kg. Tomorrow is the D-day quite disappointing…Nevertheless I’ve had my share of good learnings.