Growth and Development of Watermelon in Response to Seasonal Variation of Rainfall

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Growth and Development of Watermelon in Response to Seasonal Variation of Rainfall is a well-researched topic, it can be used as a guide or framework for your Academic Research.

Abstract

The study was conducted at the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta in order to evaluate the performance of the growth and development of watermelon in response to change in season in Nigeria. The experimental site used for this study contained mini-plots within which seeds of watermelon were planted. The dry season planting was carried out with irrigation between the period of 5th January and 14th March, while the wet season planting was conducted without irrigation between 29th March and 6th June 2013. A comparison was made between the results of plant growth parameters obtained for both seasons by using the Student t-test analysis. The growth and development parameters analyzed were; a number of leaves, vine length, and a number of internodes.

The result of the analysis showed that there was a significant difference in the performance of watermelon for the two seasons. The significant difference in the number of leaves, vine length, and a number of internodes of watermelon grown in dry season significantly differed from that of the wet season as the growth of watermelon in the dry season was rapid and faster, while it was relatively slower during the wet season. The principal cause of this is the moisture supply which was found to be supplied frequently to plant in dry season while for the wet season, rainfall was not constant, and therefore, the growth process was slowed down. Based on this result, it is therefore recommended that watermelon should be planted in the dry season with the application of irrigation and in the wet season with supplemental irrigation.

Introduction

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) belongs to the family Cucurbitaceae
[1]. It is one of the most widely cultivated crops in the world with global
production reaching about 89.9 million mega gram [2]. Its center
of origin has been traced to both the Kalahari and Sahara deserts in
Africa [3] and these areas have been regarded as a point of diversification
to other parts of the world [1]. The crop has a wide distribution as a
garden crop, while as a commercial vegetable production; its cultivation
is confined to the drier savanna region of Nigeria [4]. It is a
horticultural crop [5,6] that provides a high return and has relatively
low water requirements compared to other crops [7]. It is a traditional
food plant in Africa [8,9] with the potential to improve nutrition, boost
food security, foster rural development, and support sustainable land
care [10,11]. Smallholder farmers in the semi-arid eastern Kenya
grow watermelon, mostly under rain conditions and to a lesser extent
supplemental furrow irrigation. However, the yields remain low mainly
due to erratic rainfall. For example, in 2007 the yield was a paltry 1.66 mg/ ha [12] compared to the expected 25 to 35 mg/ha in commercial fields [13].

The growth and development of watermelon describe the
sequential order of the different stages of growth attained by this
crop. The growth phase of watermelon includes the emergence stage,
vegetative stage, flowering stage, yield formation stage, and the ripening
stage. Growth can be measured as an increase in length, width, volume,
fresh or dry weight of a plant [14]. At each of these stages, the crop is
seen or observed to increase in height and the leaves are also seen to be
larger as they increase in area. Also, the roots start going deeper into
the soil in order to get the necessary nutrients for crop growth and also to hold the plant firmly to the soil.

However, crop growth and development depends largely on
climatic factors such as precipitation, relative humidity, solar radiation,
evaporation, etc. Each of these climatic factors affects the growth of
crops, most especially in the tropics. For instance, the presence or
absence of precipitation will have either a positive or negative impact
on crop growth and productivity. Climate is also responsible for
seasonal variation in the tropics, particularly in Nigeria. In Nigeria, it
is mostly cultivated in the Northern part because it is a warm loving
plant and this makes its production seasonal in the Southern part of
the country [15]. The crop is affected by excess water especially in its
least developmental stage [16]. The high demand for this vegetable fruit
is not met in the Southern part of Nigeria because this part has
high rainfall covering many months of the year. The production of
watermelon all year round in all parts of Nigeria is expected to improve
nutrition, contribute to food security as well as increase revenue of
the producers/farmers and create employment opportunities thereby
improving on the efficiency of utilization of labor [17].
Nigeria, by virtue of its location, enjoys a warm tropical climate
with relatively high temperatures throughout the year and two seasons
– the rainy or wet season that lasts from mid- March – November in the
South and from May to October in the north; and the dry season that
occupies the rest of the year [18]. In the wet season, the full effect of the
tropical maritime air mass is the main reason that brings rainfall, while
in the dry season the rainfall is less. The total annual rainfall decreases
from the south to the north. The southern two-thirds of the country
have double peak rainfall while the northern third has a single peak. In
view of all these, it could be clearly stated that seasonal variation will
affect the growth and development of crops. This calls for the need to
observe the difference between the rate of crop growth in dry season
(with irrigation) and in wet season.

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Additional information

Type

Project Topic and Material

Category

Agric Metereology and Water Management

No of Chapters

5

Reference

Yes

Format

PDF

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