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Watermelon Farming in Kenya: A Comprehensive Guide

Watermelon Farming In Kenya

Watermelon farming in Kenya is a rapidly growing industry that has the potential to provide a significant source of income for farmers and boost the country’s economy. The warm and humid climate of Kenya makes it an ideal location for growing watermelons, which require high temperatures and ample water to thrive.

Watermelons are a highly profitable crop, with a high demand both locally and internationally. The fruit is rich in nutrients and has a refreshing taste, making it a popular choice among consumers. The farming of watermelons in Kenya has increased in recent years due to the high demand and profitability of the crop.

Despite the potential of watermelon farming in Kenya, there are also challenges that farmers face, such as pests, diseases, and lack of access to markets. However, with proper training and support, farmers can overcome these challenges and increase their yields and profits. In this article, we will explore the benefits and challenges of watermelon farming in Kenya and provide some tips on how to succeed in this industry.

Climatic Conditions for Watermelon Farming

Watermelon farming is a lucrative business in Kenya, and the country has favorable climatic conditions that support its growth. Watermelons require specific climatic conditions to thrive, and Kenya’s tropical climate provides the necessary environment for their growth.

The ideal temperature range for watermelon farming is between 25°C to 35°C. The high temperatures support the growth of the crop, and the fruits ripen faster in warm weather. However, the temperature should not exceed 40°C as it can damage the crop.

Watermelons require adequate rainfall to grow, and the recommended amount of rainfall is between 500mm to 900mm per year. The rainfall should be well-distributed throughout the growing season to ensure uniform growth of the crop. In areas with insufficient rainfall, farmers can use irrigation to supplement the water needs of the crop.

The soil in which watermelons are grown should be well-drained, fertile, and rich in organic matter. The ideal pH range for watermelon farming is between 6.0 to 6.8. The soil should also be free from pests and diseases that can affect the growth of the crop.

Watermelon farming in Kenya is mainly done in the coastal region, which has a warm and humid climate. However, the crop can also be grown in other regions of the country that have similar climatic conditions. Farmers should ensure that they select the appropriate variety of watermelon that is suitable for their region.

In conclusion, watermelon farming in Kenya requires specific climatic conditions that support the growth of the crop. Farmers should ensure that they select the appropriate variety, provide adequate water, and maintain the soil’s fertility to achieve high yields.

Soil Requirements for Watermelon Farming

Watermelon is a warm-season crop that requires well-drained, fertile soil to thrive. The soil should be rich in organic matter, have good water-holding capacity, and be free from pests and diseases.

The ideal soil pH for watermelon farming is between 6.0 and 6.8. Soil with a pH below 5.5 or above 7.5 can cause nutrient deficiencies and affect the overall growth and yield of the crop.

It is important to prepare the soil properly before planting watermelon. This involves tilling the soil to a depth of at least 15 cm and incorporating organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. The soil should be free from clods and rocks, which can hinder root growth and water absorption.

Watermelon requires a lot of water, especially during the first few weeks after planting. Therefore, the soil should have good water-holding capacity and be able to retain moisture. However, the soil should also be well-drained to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other diseases.

Overall, the success of watermelon farming in Kenya depends largely on the quality of the soil. By ensuring that the soil meets the requirements for watermelon farming, farmers can increase their chances of achieving high yields and good quality fruits.

Watermelon Varieties in Kenya

Kenya is a major producer of watermelons in Africa, and there are several varieties of watermelons that are grown in the country. The choice of variety is usually determined by several factors such as the climate, soil type, and market demand. Some of the common watermelon varieties in Kenya include:

  • Sugar Baby: This is a small, round, and seedless watermelon variety that is popular among farmers in Kenya. It has a dark green rind and a sweet red flesh. The Sugar Baby watermelon matures in about 75 days and is suitable for both small and large-scale farming.
  • Crimson Sweet: This is a large, oval-shaped watermelon variety that has a light green rind with dark green stripes. The flesh is red and sweet, and the seeds are small. The Crimson Sweet watermelon takes about 85 days to mature and is suitable for large-scale farming.
  • Jubilee: This is a large and oblong-shaped watermelon variety that has a light green rind with dark green stripes. The flesh is red and sweet, and the seeds are small. The Jubilee watermelon takes about 90 days to mature and is suitable for large-scale farming.

Other watermelon varieties that are grown in Kenya include Charleston Gray, Congo, and Charleston Grey. Farmers in Kenya are encouraged to choose watermelon varieties that are suitable for their specific farming conditions and market demands.

watermelon fruit
watermelon fruit

It is important to note that the success of watermelon farming in Kenya depends on several factors such as the availability of water, proper soil preparation, pest and disease control, and market demand. Farmers are advised to seek expert advice on the best watermelon varieties to grow and the best farming practices to adopt to ensure maximum yields and profits.

Also Read: Sukari F1 Watermelon Farming In Kenya

Planting and Propagation of Watermelon

Watermelon farming in Kenya is a lucrative business, but it requires proper planning and management to yield the best results. Here are some essential tips on planting and propagation of watermelon:

Seed Selection and Preparation

Choose high-quality seeds from reputable sources to ensure healthy and vigorous plants. Soak the seeds in water for 24 hours before planting to enhance germination rates.

Site Selection and Preparation

Watermelons require well-draining soil, plenty of sunlight, and adequate water supply. Choose a site with full sun exposure and avoid areas with high winds or frost-prone areas. Prepare the soil by tilling to a depth of 30 cm and adding organic matter such as compost or manure.

Planting and Spacing

Plant the seeds in hills or rows, with a spacing of 1.5 to 2 meters between the rows and 1 meter between the hills. Plant 3 to 4 seeds per hill and thin to one or two plants per hill after germination.

Irrigation and Fertilization

Watermelons require frequent and consistent watering, especially during the flowering and fruiting stages. Use drip irrigation or furrow irrigation to avoid waterlogging and reduce water wastage. Fertilize the plants with balanced fertilizers such as NPK 17:17:17 or 20:10:10, and apply foliar sprays of micronutrients such as zinc and boron.

Pest and Disease Control

Watermelons are susceptible to various pests and diseases, such as aphids, whiteflies, powdery mildew, and fusarium wilt. Use integrated pest management strategies such as crop rotation, use of resistant varieties, and biological control agents such as beneficial insects and fungi. Apply fungicides and insecticides only when necessary and follow the recommended rates and intervals.

Watermelon Farming Practices

Watermelon farming in Kenya requires proper planning and implementation of farming practices to achieve high yields. Here are some of the best farming practices:

  • Soil Preparation: The first step is to prepare the soil. Watermelons grow best in well-drained sandy loam soil with a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. The land should be plowed and harrowed to a fine tilth to improve soil aeration and water infiltration.
  • Planting: Watermelon seeds should be planted in rows with a spacing of 2m between rows and 1m between plants. The seeds should be planted at a depth of 2-3cm. It is advisable to plant the seeds during the rainy season or when there is enough water supply.
  • Irrigation: Watermelons require adequate water supply for optimal growth and yield. Drip irrigation is the most effective method of irrigation since it reduces water wastage and ensures that water is delivered directly to the roots.
  • Fertilizer Application: Watermelons require a lot of nutrients for growth and development. It is recommended to apply organic manure or compost before planting. During the growth stage, nitrogen-rich fertilizers should be applied to promote vegetative growth. During the fruiting stage, phosphorus-rich fertilizers should be applied to promote fruit development.
  • Pest and Disease Control: Watermelons are susceptible to pests and diseases such as aphids, spider mites, powdery mildew, and bacterial wilt. It is advisable to use integrated pest management techniques such as crop rotation, use of resistant varieties, and biological control to control pests and diseases.

By following these farming practices, watermelon farmers in Kenya can achieve high yields and improve their income.

Pest and Disease Management in Watermelon Farming

Watermelon farming in Kenya is highly susceptible to pests and diseases, which can cause significant losses to farmers. Therefore, it’s important to implement effective pest and disease management practices to ensure a healthy crop and maximize yield. Here are some common pests and diseases in watermelon farming and how to manage them:


Aphids: These small insects suck sap from the leaves and stem, causing yellowing and curling of the leaves. They can also transmit viruses. Control aphids by using insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Whiteflies: These tiny insects also suck sap from the leaves, causing yellowing and stunted growth. They can also transmit viruses. Control whiteflies by using insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Spider mites: These tiny pests cause yellowing and stippling of the leaves. They thrive in hot, dry conditions. Control spider mites by spraying the plants with water or using insecticidal soap.


Fusarium wilt: This fungal disease causes wilting and yellowing of the leaves, and eventually death of the plant. It’s spread through contaminated soil and water. Control Fusarium wilt by using disease-resistant varieties and practicing crop rotation.

Anthracnose: This fungal disease causes sunken lesions on the fruit and leaves, and can lead to fruit rot. It’s spread through contaminated soil and water. Control anthracnose by using disease-resistant varieties and practicing crop rotation.

Powdery mildew: This fungal disease causes a white, powdery coating on the leaves and stems. It’s spread through high humidity and poor air circulation. Control powdery mildew by using fungicides and improving air circulation.

By implementing effective pest and disease management practices, watermelon farmers in Kenya can minimize losses and maximize yield. Regular scouting and monitoring of the crop is also important to catch any issues early and take appropriate action.

Harvesting and Post-Harvesting Management of Watermelon

Watermelons are typically harvested when the fruit is fully matured and has reached its maximum size. This usually occurs between 80-100 days after planting, depending on the variety and growing conditions. To determine if a watermelon is ready for harvest, look for the following signs:

  • The fruit has a dull or matte appearance
  • The bottom of the fruit (where it touches the ground) has turned yellow or cream-colored
  • The tendril closest to the fruit has turned brown and dried up
  • The fruit sounds hollow when tapped

Once the watermelons are harvested, it is important to handle them carefully to avoid damaging the fruit. Bruised or damaged fruit will not store well and will spoil quickly. Here are some tips for post-harvesting management:

  • Handle the fruit gently to avoid bruising
  • Remove any dirt or debris from the surface of the fruit
  • Store the fruit in a cool, dry place with good ventilation
  • Avoid stacking the fruit too high to prevent crushing the bottom layer
  • Sort the fruit by size and quality to maximize profits

Proper post-harvesting management is essential for maximizing the shelf life of watermelons. By following these tips, farmers can ensure that their watermelons remain fresh and marketable for as long as possible.

Marketing and Profitability of Watermelon Farming in Kenya

Watermelon farming in Kenya can be a profitable venture if proper marketing strategies are employed. The demand for watermelons in Kenya is high due to the fruit’s sweet taste and high nutritional value. The fruit is also used to make juice and other products, which increases its marketability.

One way to market watermelons is by selling them directly to consumers in local markets. This method eliminates the need for middlemen, which increases profits for farmers. Another way to market watermelons is by selling to supermarkets and other retail outlets. This requires proper packaging and labeling of the fruit to attract customers.

Watermelon farming can be profitable if the cost of production is kept low. One way to reduce production costs is by using organic farming methods. This eliminates the need for expensive chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which can be harmful to the environment and human health.

Another way to increase profitability is by planting high-yielding watermelon varieties. These varieties produce more fruits per plant, which increases the overall yield and profits. Farmers can also increase profits by planting watermelons in the right season to avoid losses due to pests and diseases.

Furthermore, farmers can increase profitability by reducing post-harvest losses. Proper storage and transportation of watermelons can prevent spoilage and increase the shelf life of the fruit. This makes it possible for farmers to sell their produce in distant markets, which increases their customer base and profits.

In conclusion, watermelon farming in Kenya can be profitable if proper marketing strategies are employed. Farmers can increase profits by reducing production costs, planting high-yielding varieties, and reducing post-harvest losses. By doing so, farmers can tap into the high demand for watermelons in Kenya and increase their income.

Also Read: Watermelon Yield Per Acre In Kenya

Sources: Gichimu, Bernard M., B. O. Owuor, and M. M. Dida. “Agronomic performance of three most popular commercial watermelon cultivars in Kenya as compared to one newly introduced cultivar and one local landrace grown on dystric….” (2008). Link: http://www.edocs.maseno.ac.ke/handle/123456789/2648

Maluki, Martin, Joshua Ogweno, and Robert Morwani Gesimba. “Evaluation of nitrogen effects on yield and quality of watermelon {Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsumara & Nakai} grown in the coastal regions of Kenya.” International Journal of Plant & Soil Science 9.2 (2016): 1-8. Link: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Joshua-Ogweno/publication/283699893_Evaluation_of_Nitrogen_Effects_on_Yield_and_Quality_of_Watermelon_Citrullus_lanatus_Thunb_Matsumara_Nakai_Grown_in_the_Coastal_Regions_of_Kenya/links/57edf9ae08ae03fa0e82a0b4/Evaluation-of-Nitrogen-Effects-on-Yield-and-Quality-of-Watermelon-Citrullus-lanatus-Thunb-Matsumara-Nakai-Grown-in-the-Coastal-Regions-of-Kenya.pdf

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John Kamau is a highly experienced agriculture expert based in Kenya. He holds a degree in Agriculture from the University of Nairobi and has over 15 years of experience in the field. Throughout his career, John has been committed to promoting sustainable agriculture practices in Kenya. He has worked with small-scale farmers in rural communities to improve their crop yields, implement irrigation systems, and adopt environmentally friendly farming practices. John is also an expert in the use of technology in agriculture. He has worked with organizations to develop mobile applications that help farmers access information about weather patterns, market prices, and best practices for crop management. In addition to his work in Kenya, John has also been involved in agricultural projects in other African countries, including Tanzania and Uganda. He has served as a consultant for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and has been recognized for his work with numerous awards.


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