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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Growing Loads of Watermelons

No, we aren't growing loads of watermelons in Kansas.  Remember my friend Cory who hosted Flat Aggie for Mrs. Piatt's class?  He wrote a couple of posts about how they grow watermelons in Delaware for me and I forgot to post them.  Sorry!  I have been eating some delicious watermelon and it reminded me.  Take a look at what it takes to get the watermelons to harvest.  I will post another blog post later this week all about harvest.  Thanks Cory!
Basic Overview of watermelon production in Delaware

Hello Friends, I was asked to blog about watermelon production in Delaware after meeting Nicole at a conference in Memphis a few months ago. Anyways, I own and operate Cory’s Produce, LLC which is a grain and vegetable operation based in Sussex County, Delaware.

 More Delicious or MAR-DELicious???

Watermelon production begins roughly in early April, the seeds are planted into 72 count trays and placed into a greenhouse where they are grown into transplants. 

The trays will spend about 6-7 weeks from the time they are placed into the greenhouse before they are taken out and transplanted. During this time and even in most cases in the fall of the following year, field work is being done in preparation for the upcoming season.

 In the fall, rye strips are planted which will become wind breaks to help protect young transplants from high winds in the spring of the year. Once the rye strips are planted and growing we begin to cultivate between the rye strips in the late winter early spring we will roto-till, sub soil rip, and then roto till each row.

 This can be very time consuming being it is done in 6-7ft wide cultivation equipment.  Once all the cultivation is complete we will band our starter fertilizer down each row before laying a raised plastic bed with drip tape. The drip tape will later water and fertilize the watermelon plants.  

Remember those trays we had in the greenhouse?  

Well, it would now be about mid-May and as we remove those trays from the greenhouse those seeds have become transplants that are set in many cases one row at a time into the raised beds in the field.
Thus again a very slow process making sure that each plant in correctly planted and not damaged in the process.
From here out the watermelon production is like most other field grown crops, they get closing monitored daily, watered, fertilized, and sprayed with preventative pesticides to grow a healthy, sweet, edible MAR-DELicious watermelon.
As we speed ahead too early to mid-July watermelon harvest has begun.
Every watermelon is hand harvested mostly done by migrant harvest crews who follow the production and harvest of watermelons from southern Florida up to the coast to Delaware.
Harvest will generally last until around Labor Day depending on the late summer weather and our hurricane season that can often ruin a crop due to large amounts of rainfall. 

Check out this post on Watermelon Harvest.  If you don't want to miss a post from this blog, add you email address to the "Follow by Email" box and it will be mailed to you each time I post.  I promise not to spam you and you won't miss one of my yummy recipes.  :) 
 --A Kansas Farm Mom