By Clint Thompson
Fertilization remains a vital part of the watermelon production season up until harvest time, says Bob Hochmuth, UF/IFAS Regional Specialized Extension agent in Live Oak, Florida.
“One harvest, every five to seven days let’s say, it’s the second and the third and the potentially fourth harvest that we need to make sure we’re taking care and keeping the fertilization going and keeping the disease management going as well,” Hochmuth said. “You’ve got to keep them happy until maybe one week before harvest and then after that, it’s always been my feeling from research that after that, you can turn them loose. Up until that point, you need to keep them fertilized.”
In his weekly email reminder to area farmers, Holmuch said that most conventionally fertilized fields are at the growth stage where fertigation rates should be between 2 and 2.5 pounds per acre per day rate for nitrogen and potassium, using the net acres of watermelons in the field.
If producers prepare for multiple harvests, they’ll be ready to take advantage of the market if it presents itself.
“The decision on that is mostly made by the market. If the price stays strong and they still want to get watermelons from here before they move to Georgia or South Carolina, then we need to be prepared for that additional harvest, even though in many years, you never get to harvest everything out of there you would like to for the main market,” Holmuch said.