Sunday, July 8, 2012

Update on Watermelon harvest..

I wanted to post an update on the watermelon earlier but it just kept slipping away due to ongoing activities at the farm. We planted the seeds in December 2011 and harvested the crop in March 2012. Like any other short term crop, maintaining the crop, ensuring there were no major pest issues was a labour and resource intensive task.
This season, crop in Tamil Nadu was severely affected by morning dew which apparently resulted in influx of Andhra watermelons flooding the markets here. Nonetheless, we were able to get a commendable yield, given the climatic conditions were not as favorable.

Weighing in process...




















First, we approached produce agents who took the first harvest at Rs 5/Kg (retail rate was Rs 10/Kg)




















About 10 days later, when the second harvest was ready, the agents started negotiating on the rate. Rs 3/Kg being unacceptable, we proceeded to the town mandi. Here Rs 5/Kg was maintained but the delivery was our overhead. That went on for a few days and then the folks at mandi wanted a lower rate (with delivery).

Annoyed, it was decided we would do some direct marketing to the consumers. Everyday, a couple of loads of the produce was brought to the mandi area and we were able to sell it at Rs 7/Kg.




















So we appointed one of our farm labour as the salesman and he was able to sell the produce in 2-3 hours early in the morning. With increasing popularity of the produce among the local populace, increase in the sales staff was needed. So we "bribed" a neighborhood vendor with a couple of sweet watermelons and he did some effective marketing for us - free of cost.




















Going..going..and gone!






















In retrospect, this experience was fairly valuable. It gave a good insight on challenges of producing a perishable product and then marketing it effectively. Many of you have called me regarding growing organic vegetables and selling it in the market. My advice would be to first identify your customer before getting into it..and your customer cannot be produce agents because they will bargain hard with you.

Another revelation was DO NOT blindly follow the NPK dosages given by irrigation companies or anybody else. Then who do you believe? Well, unfortunately, it will take a couple of seasons to understand the soil and its requirements. I followed the schedule fairly religiously which resulted in more foliage due to Urea (as a result the fruits were smaller and fewer).




















When the foliage is thick, a lot of the energy that would have been utilized by the fruits, goes to the leaves. As a result, fruits get affected in quality and quantity.

Nonetheless, we were able to enjoy some red, juicy watermelons at the beginning of summer.


















16 comments:

  1. Please share yield data. Information regarding output under less than ideal conditions is just as useful to practicing (and aspiring) farmers as that under the best conditions.

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    1. One can expect to harvest 5tons to 25 tons per acre based on soil, water, climatic conditions..

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    2. Would you like to share the area covered and total watermelon output that sold though various channels?

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    3. I am already quite liberal in sharing information in the public domain. I cannot give you the specifics. With the prevailing rate and range of yield, you can calculate the economics. Channels of marketing have been stated in the post.

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  2. No problem. You have a right to withhold any information you wish. Thanks for sharing whatever info you did share in this post.

    Do you plan to plant Watermelon again later this year? (Please ignore question if do not wish to answer.)

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    1. We will examine our labor resource later this year and accordingly plan for it. Currently, we are developing the second phase consisting of melia dubia, mango and fodder. We are also looking into getting into goatery. More details to follow in the coming weeks.

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    2. For goatery details check out this one at http://veeravasu.blogspot.in.
      I had visited his place in Jan, when he had about 250 goats.
      Rgds
      Anil

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    3. Thanks for sharing the info. Is it advisable to cultivate water in October timeframe. probably they would be ready to market in Dec. Do we good rate in that period?

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    4. If you cultivate in Oct, your harvest would be ready by Dec-Jan. You may get an advantage on the price since you will be early in the market. However, you probably run a risk with fungal diseases etc due to monsoon (depending on your location)

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  3. Thanks for the link, Anil. It will be great to visit him - Do you have his contact details?

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    1. Sorry, I dont seem to have his number. But you can call this gentleman Mr Jude on 9486265505 / 9367921320 and he will be able to get u his no. or take u there.
      Anil

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    2. Thanks Anil. Where is this farm located?

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  4. Direct marketing to end consumers is way to go. I started reading your blog starting from first post this afternoon. Amazing stuff!

    I am also on similar path; techie in US, returned to India and entering farming; about 2 years behind you.

    Keep it up.

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  5. Congrats on the move. Subscribe to our blog if you have not already for regular updates. Do keep us updated on the developments.

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  6. Thank you for sharing information. I myself from IT background planning to get into agri in a year or so. Appreciate you for sharing this info.

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