By Clint Thompson
Watermelon harvests have begun in North Florida. But that doesn’t mean producers should halt their fertilizer applications.
Bob Hochmuth, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Regional Specialized Extension agent in Live Oak, Florida, emphasizes to growers the importance of continuing their fertilizer application program.
“Lets say you and I have a field and we’re going to harvest this Wednesday, and we’ve got 18 and 20-pound watermelons that are going to come out of there. On that same plant, there’s a vine that has a watermelon on it that is the size of a softball,” Hochmuth said.
“We have to continue to properly feed that plant so that we’re able to take good care of that softball size that will be ready for harvest in lets say three weeks. It’s not one of those crops that sets all of its fruit at once. It’s a sequent on that vine. We started last week and hopefully will have three or four weeks of good harvest out of the crop.”
Hochmuth said in his weekly email update to growers that once harvests commences, producers should set the rate for nitrogen and potassium at 2 pounds per acre per day and leave it that way until one week from the last harvest.
“Typically, the first and second harvest are the best quality and highest yielding ones, but if we can continue to get a third and fourth harvest out of it then that really helps to bring the total yield up. You’ve already got all of the cash inputs taken care of by that point; fertilizer, water, chemicals, etc.,” Hochmuth added.