Watermelon Production Louisiana Zone 8

Ahmad Robertson  |  3/21/2014 9:32:04 PM

Ahmad Robertson, LSU/SU ANR agent, plants watermelon seeds.

Warner Hall, local vegetable producer, demonstrates best practices of watermelon preparation.

With the winter almost gone, now is an ideal time to prepare your 2014 summer vegetable garden.

Louisiana-grown melons generally are mature at the earliest in June with our warm climates. You can direct-sow seeds outdoors, but wait until the soil temperature warms to at least 70 degrees to avoid poor germination. Watermelons are a tender crop and should not be planted until danger of frost has passed. The use of mulch and drip irrigation are recommended. The mulch helps to protect the fruit from rotting, control weeds and promote early fruit production.

Watermelons have male and female flowers and require bees for pollination. Delay spraying of insecticides on watermelons until late afternoon or early evening after the bees have left the field and returned to the hive. Spraying a fungicide every 10 to 14 days starting when the vines begin to flower and set fruit until harvest will ensure healthy foliage. Treating for cucumber beetles and worms when you first identify them is the key to controlling these pest.

Seeds/Transplant

Planting from seed in a greenhouse in late February to early March 4 to 6 weeks before transplanting is a great practice. Put the transplants in your garden.

Planting

  • South Louisiana dates for planting are from March 1 to July 5
  • Watermelons prefer soil pH of 6.5
  • Grow the vines in raised rows known as hills and ensure good drainage. Hills will hold the sun’s heat longer.
  • Space the plants about 2 feet apart in a 5-foot-wide hill.
  • Watermelons like loamy, well-drained soil.
  • After you transplant, cover the plants with row covers to keep pests at bay.
  • Remove row covers when you see both male and female flowers on the vine.

Fertilization

For preplant use 4-5 pounds of 8-24-24 or 13-13-13 per 100 feet row.

Sidedress melons three to four weeks after planting when the vines begin to run with 1-2 pounds of ammonium nitrate or 2-4 pounds of calcium nitrate per 100 feet of row. If your rows aren’t 100 feet long, adjust the amount you apply to each row.

Recommended Watermelon Varieties

  • Long Striped Type
    • Jubilee
    • Jubilation
  • Round, Light Green Stripe
    • Dixie Lee
    • Louisiana Sweet
  • Ice Box Types
    • Sugar Baby
  • Mickey Lee

Common Problems

  • Foliar Diseases
  • Cucumber Beetles
  • Worms

Pre-emergence Weed Management

Apply Sinbar 80 WP at 2-4 oz. to control broadleaf weeds. Apply before crop or weeds emerge or apply before transplanting. Can be applied under plastic or to row middles. Also, you can apply it over plastic mulch before punching holes. However a ½-inch rain is required to wash off Sinbar before holes are punched or plants are transplanted.

Post emergence Weed Management

After planting apply Roundup Weatherman at 11-22 to control pigweed. Apply 41% of Roundup when pigweed emerges. Apply to row or middles only using a hooded sprayer or wiper applicator. Don’t spray directly on the watermelon.

After watermelons have 2-3 leaves, apply Treflan HFP, direct spray to row middles and/or beneath plants at the true leaf stage.

Ahmad R. Robertson
Assistant Area Agriculture & Natural Resource Agent
Tangipahoa Parish St. Helena Parish
305 East Oak Street 23 Main Street
Amite, LA 70422 Greensburg, LA 70441
Office (985)748-5462 Office (225) 222- 4136
Fax (985)748-3787 Fax (225)222-4910

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