Growing Watermelon in High-Altitude Trans-Himalayan Ladakh
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The feasibility of growing watermelon, a warm season crop, was studied under a low-input cultivation system in open field condition in the high-altitude (elevation 3344 m) trans-Himalayan Ladakh region. The mean marketable yield of five cultivars in different treatments varied from 13.0 ± 2.7 to 30.4 ± 5.3 and 11.8 ± 2.9 to 27.4 ± 4.0 t ha−1 in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Treatment of black polyethylene mulch (BPM) increased marketable yield by 23.3% to 59.2% depending on year and cultivar. The best-performing cultivar (Bejo-2000) under BPM yielded 28.9 t ha−1 marketable fruit, which suggested that watermelon can successfully be grown in open field condition in the trans-Himalaya. Harvest began on 18 August 2014 and 26 August 2015. Average marketable fruit weight ranged from 2.9 to 5.3 kg, and TSS ranged from 9.3 to 11.3°Brix depending on cultivar. Temperature 10 cm beneath the BPM was 2.8 ± 0.3 °C higher than in nonmulched soil. BPM reduced 73% weed and saved 77% time in manual weeding.
KeywordsCitrullus lanatus Low input Mulching Off-season Organic
The study was supported by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ministry of Defence, Government of India. SA, DA and PD are grateful to DRDO for providing Research Fellowship. We would like to thank Head, Vegetable Science Division, IARI, New Delhi; Head, Division of Vegetable Crop, Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, Bangalore; and M/s Beejo Sheetal, Jalna, Maharashtra, for providing seed of the watermelon varieties.
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