Watermelon Varieties Available in Kenya
I am from Garissa County and I need the best variety of watermelon. Please advise.
Watermelons do well in hot and even dry areas. Watermelon is a warm season crop but requires water in the first few weeks of growth.
Irrigation should stop when it starts producing fruits. The less the water the crop gets as it develops, the better, as this increases the sugar content and concentration in the fruit, making it sweeter.
There are many varieties of watermelon in Kenya.
Sukari F1: It is the most widely grown watermelon variety in Kenya. It matures between 80 to 90 days. The fruit is oblong with an average weight of seven to eight kilogrammes. The rind is light green with dark green stripes while the flesh is red, crispy and firm.
The total soluble salt is approximately 12 per cent.
The thick rind is good for long-distance transport and has a yield potential of 25 tonnes per acre.
Asali F1: The fruit is green with rinds that are characterised by strips of green and dark green running down its sides.
The crop takes a minimum of 85 days or three months to mature. The fruit is large — weighing eight to 10 kilogrammes. It is succulent with a sweet red flesh.
This type of watermelon has a very high yield potential of up to 40 tonnes per acre.
It is resistant to anthracnose and fusarium wilt.
Andaman 631 F1: The rinds are green with no patterns on the elliptically shaped fruits. This variety of watermelon will do well in areas with relatively low rainfall.
It can be grown in greenhouses and is not affected by the limited sunlight either. The fruit has an average weight of eight kilogrammes.
If well-managed, the harvest per acre is 30 tonnes.
The fruit has flesh that is a deeper shade of red than other watermelons and is also sweet.
It takes a minimum of 80 days to mature. The vines for this variety are very strong. Farms on a slope will not have a problem when the fruits become larger over time.
Sweet Melon Galia F1: It has a unique green flesh inside and is sweet-tasting as well.
The rinds are brown and yellow with no definite pattern.
The yield per acre for this variety is about 25 tonnes. This is the smallest variety of watermelon available, with a fruit averaging two kilogrammes, though some are as low as a kilo.
It also takes a relatively shorter time to mature. In just 65 days, your crop may be ready. This, however, may extend up to 90 days.
The number of fruits per acre is relatively higher, meaning harvesting will be more labour-intensive.
All these varieties are available at seed companies like Amiran Kenya and Kenya Seed.
ARTICLE CREDIT: Carol Mutua
Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University
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