Farmers can make more than Sh2.5 million shillings from one acre in three months with the high yielding Asali F1 watermelon, whose fresh fruit weighs almost twice that of the ordinary varieties.
Royal Seed Company agronomist Alex Njagi said Asali F1 hybrid can give an average of two fruits per plant weighing between 10kg and 12kg.
“Asali F1 has reduced size of seeds. Its cover is also thin, but tough. These two qualities give room for a more succulent flesh,” the agronomist said during the Machakos County Agricultural Society of Kenya Show 2016.
An average watermelon fruit weighs between five and eight kilos. Two sample fruits of Asali F1 at the company’s demonstration plot in Machakos Show ground weighed 12 kilos.
One needs 4,000 seeds for planting in an acre, Njagi said.
With a harvest of two fruits per plant weighing 11 kg, a farmer who practices good crop husbandry can harvest 8,000 watermelons.
If they weigh about 11kg, then the fruits will give 88,000 kilos from the one acre.
The costs of watermelons in major towns in Kenya vary from Sh25 to Sh40 per kilo.
From the 88,000 kilos harvested, the farmers will earn a gross income of Sh2.64 million in three months.
Fleshy and sugary
Besides having 13 per cent brix or sugar content in its fleshy mass, Asali F1 has a tough lid, which ensures that the fruit remains intact during transportation to the market.
Just like other fleshy succulent fruits, the variety requires sufficient water through the growing period, Njagi said.
If the rains are insufficient and a farmer is using irrigation, mulching is key in maintaining water moisture in the soil. In addition, the mulch smothers weeds, therefore, minimising mechanical tillage, which disturbs soil.
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A 500g pack of Asali F1 seeds costs Sh10,900 in major agrovets around the country.
Other crop husbandry practices that will ensure high results include pruning, top dressing or applying manure, timely control of pests and diseases, among others.