When to pick watermelon

When is Watermelon Ripe?

Learning how to pick a ripe watermelon is not the easiest thing to learn, but there are indicators to look for.

Visit our Pinterest board for different and tasty ways to enjoy your perfectly picked watermelon.

How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon

Deciding when to harvest a melon is most difficult early in the season when vines are green and healthy, but picking the perfect watermelon can easily be done with a little bit of experience. Watermelon mature rapidly during hot weather. Most are ripe about 32 days after blooming and are easily picked off the vine at that point.

Follow these 4 simple guidelines, and you’ll know how to pick the best watermelon in no time:

Qualities of a Ripe Watermelon

Good quality melons are usually firm, symmetrical in shape, fresh, attractive in appearance, and of good color. The external rind color may vary from deep solid green to gray, depending on the variety.

Watermelon Vines

A key indicator of a watermelon’s maturity is the tendrils or pigtails on vines change from green to brown. A ripe watermelon will easily be picked from the vine.

Watermelon Color

Another indicator to take note of is the color of the spot on the watermelon. The ground spot on the belly of the melon will from white to yellow when it is ripe and ready to be picked.

The Sound of a Ripe Watermelon

Give the watermelon a thump. An immature watermelon will return a dull, metallic ringing noise, where as a mature watermelon will have a soft hollow sound that indicates its ready to be picked.

Growing Watermelons in Containers

Storing Watermelons

Store watermelons at temperatures ranging from 60 to 70 degrees F. Temperatures below 50 degrees or above 90 degrees for extended periods will increase flesh deterioration. Once the melon is cut, it can be refrigerated in wedge form or in small chunks in plastic-covered containers. Watermelons should be handled carefully to avoid rolling, bumping or dropping and thus prevent internal bruising of the flesh.

Photo by Len Villano.

A crisp wedge of watermelon rounds off a summer plate like nothing else — and it’s also a work of art. Flecked with seeds, the rosy flesh is surrounded by a green rind, which can be served pickled or stewed — or, more often, simply thrown in the compost pile. At 91 percent water, the fruit is an excellent complement to a juicy burger or succulent rack of ribs.

Watermelon has been refreshing the human palate for centuries. Originating in southern Africa, where it still grows wild, remnants of the fruit have been found at the tomb of King Tut and in ancient India and China, now the world’s leading producer. Spanish settlers were growing watermelon in Florida by the late 1500s, and now the fruit is grown in 44 U.S. states.

Here in Wisconsin, where the growing season is famously short, certain cultivars thrive. Watermelon requires 100 days from planting to produce mature fruit, and growing conditions need to be right. According to Kelly Berg, former Door County resident and founder of the Growing Collective in Stevens Point, Sugar Baby, Sweet Dakota Rose and white-fleshed Cream of Saskatchewan are popular varieties.

Here are a few growing tips for those who have the space and the stamina to nurture their own watermelon patch.

  • Melon seeds live for more than 10 years with proper storage.
  • Use liberal amounts of compost or aged manure in each hill for planting.
  • A cold start can permanently stunt a melon’s growth. Be patient and wait for a warm spell after all danger of frost has passed to plant your seeds.
  • Keep well watered.

“Harvesting watermelon is an art,” said Berg. “When you thump your melon, it should make a low hollow sound.” Another good indicator is the “ground spot,” the part of the fruit that touches the soil. When it changes from white to creamy yellow, the melon is ready to be picked.

Whether you grow your own melons or find them at the farmers’ market or grocery store, there are many ways to use up the ample amount of fruit — the average watermelon weighs 20 pounds at harvest.

Smoothies, salads and even grilled kabobs are great ways to make the most of your melon. For those embracing a gluten-free diet, try a watermelon sandwich: fresh mozzarella, herbs and sweet pickles sandwiched between two rindless slices of watermelon and secured with a skewer.

Watermelon, Feta and Mint Salad

Photo by Len Villano.

6 cups watermelon, cubed

4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

1 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped

juice of one lime

1 cup arugula leaves (optional)

Toss ingredients in a large bowl and serve immediately.

Watermelon Basil Sorbet

Photo by Len Villano.

8 – 10 cups watermelon, cubed

1 cup Greek yogurt

¼ cup basil simple syrup*

Place cubes of watermelon in sealable bag or on a baking sheet in freezer for four hours or until well frozen. Working in batches, puree in blender or food processor until smooth. Combine watermelon puree with Greek yogurt and simple syrup. Place puree in baking dish and freeze for one to two hours more. Scoop and serve garnished with a sprig of basil.

*Basil Simple Syrup

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

½ cup fresh basil leaves

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and boil until sugar is dissolved. Steep basil leaves in liquid until cooled. Strain, and pour into a glass jar. Simple syrup will keep for a week in the refrigerator.

Curious About Harvesting Watermelon?

When it comes to harvesting watermelon, timing is everything. Pick the fruit too soon and it won’t be sweet. Wait too long to pick the fruit, and it may be mushy and unappealing.

There are four steps to take to tell if your watermelon is ready for harvest. If all of these “tests” indicate that the watermelon is ready to be picked, you know you’re in for a real treat.

  • Inspect the watermelon. If it has lost its shiny appearance, you’re off to a good start.
  • Thump the watermelon. Rap it with your knuckles. If it sounds hollow inside, it’s getting close to being ready.
  • Inspect the stem. You should see a spiral coil near the stem of the watermelon. If the coil is brown and dried up, the melon is almost ready to be picked.
  • Inspect the bottom of the watermelon. Look at the spot that was laying on the ground. If it’s still white, the watermelon isn’t ready yet. If the spot has turned a rich yellow color, go ahead and harvest the watermelon.

If you always follow these four steps when harvesting watermelon, you can be assured that the fruit you pick will be sweet, crisp and in peak condition to eat. If you’re buying a watermelon at a market or store, always look at the spot on the bottom of the melon. You want it to be a golden yellow color. If it’s white, the melon isn’t ripe.

After picking watermelons, you should store them in the refrigerator if at all possible. Some varieties of watermelon are just too big to fit in the fridge. They can be kept in a cooler with some ice for a day or so. Unfortunately, watermelon doesn’t keep well for very long, even in the refrigerator. A whole watermelon will keep for 7-10 days in the fridge. A cut watermelon will last 4-5 days, as long as it is covered. Watermelon is best served cold. Ideally, you would harvest watermelon in the morning, chill it in the fridge and eat it later the same day. Some backyard vegetable gardeners choose to grow smaller melons because they know they will fit whole in the refrigerator and keep slightly longer.

Now that you’ve harvested some watermelon, it’s time for a few recipe ideas.

At the farmers’ market, you’re more likely to come across watermelons marked with their variety names. Ask about flavor and texture differences between them, as there surely are some.

How to pick a watermelon

Just because it’s a good time to buy watermelon doesn’t mean it’s impossible to bring home a dud. It’s happened to all of us, and what a bummer that is. An overripe watermelon is mealy and an underripe one tastes watery. (All is not lost in either case. Put the puréed flesh to use in everything from limeade to soup.)

Thing is, you don’t truly know what you’re dealing with until you cut into it. But you will increase your odds of picking a primo watermelon by doing three things, says Barlow: look, lift, and turn.

Look for any major gashes, bruises, or dents. A watermelon is tough, but signs of serious damage to the outside doesn’t bode well for the inside.

Next, the lift test: pick it up and put it down, then pick up others to compare. The one you want should feel heavy for its size.

Finally—crucially—turn the watermelon around and look for a creamy yellow patch, called the field or ground spot. This tells you that the watermelon sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. If it’s ripe, it should have one regardless of size or variety, Barlow says.

Knock, knock

You might have been taught to thump on the melon and listen for a particular sound. Maybe this works, but it isn’t something the watermelon board endorses.

“I’ve heard it should sound hollow, I’ve heard it should sound dull. There is much debate, so there is no guarantee,” Barlow says.

Gingery Watermelon Paletas

Marcus Nilsson

text in callout

At home

If a watermelon was cold when you bought it, keep it cold by storing it in the refrigerator. If not, it’s fine to leave the whole watermelon out at room temperature.

Cut into it within a week, Barlow says. (Don’t forget to wash it first.) If you’ve bought it at the farmers’ market, why even wait? You can bet that melon is at its peak and hasn’t been out of the field long. Store the cut fruit in an airtight container in the fridge. It’ll last a week. If you leave any portion uncut, wrap the exposed surface well and carve up the rest within a few days.

“As soon as it’s cut, it’ll start seeping liquid. The life cycle really shortens,” Barlow says.

You can freeze watermelon in chunks, but be sure to use them frozen. Watermelon does wonders for keeping you in a summer mindset, but it does not defrost well.

Watermelons are a tasty fruit that are loved by millions of people around the country. They’re delicious, they offer an array of healthy benefits and they go great as a side dish with those summer barbecued meats. However, watermelons only grow at certain periods of the year, so if you’re a lover of this fruit, it’s best to know when is watermelon season is in your geographical area.

When is watermelon season in Texas, Florida, California and Georgia?

Although watermelon is a popular treat in the summertime, the watermelon season will slightly vary from different states. This is definitely true for Texas, California and Georgia. In Texas, the watermelon season is from June to August. On the other hand, Georgia’s watermelon season starts at the end of July and ends at the beginning of September, and California? Their watermelon season includes all of June, July, August and September.

As you can see, the watermelon season for every state occurs during the warmer months, but each state’s specific time periods are a little different. If you truly want fantastic tasting watermelon, you’ll want to pay attention to when your state’s watermelon season is and how long it lasts.

It’s important to note that these are approximate timelines, and they can always change. There are several aspects that influence growth and with a lack of them could potentially throw these dates off. They include:

Weather conditions

Soil quality

Water consumption

Sunlight availability

Geographical location

Now, there over 1,200 varieties different kinds of watermelons, but most grocery stores only carry a few. If you’re interested in growing your own watermelons, you’ll want to know when watermelon season is for your geographical area. This will help ensure you’ll grown the best watermelons possible.

Growing your own during watermelon season

If you’re an individual who has an interest in growing watermelon, you’ll first want to start by finding out when the watermelon season begins and ends in your geographical area. Once you know that, you’ll then have to decide what kind of watermelon you’ll want to grow.

Although there are over 1,200 kinds of watermelons, they all have one thing in common. The seeds should all be planted about a month after the last frost. This is why it’s essential that you stay up-to-date on the local weather forecast. In general, watermelons cannot handle temperature that are below 50 degrees. When the temperatures drop this much, the sweetness in the watermelon will begin to diminish.

For people who want to get a little bit of a head start, they can start their watermelon seeds inside their home. If you’re interest in doing this, you’ll need to invest in a biodegradable paper or peat pot that measures out to be about 4-inches or more. Once you have your supplies, simply plant your seeds in the pot, and let them sit out and grow.

Days to harvest during watermelon season

Like mentioned above, there are over 1,200 different kinds of watermelons. Many of these watermelons will have different harvest periods. To get the most out of your watermelon plants, you’ll want to know when the harvest period is for the kind of watermelon you’re planting. It’s important to remember that smaller watermelons will mature faster than large ones.

Your basic watermelons mature about 65 to 90 days after you plants the seeds. Then you have watermelons that are smaller in size and weigh anywhere from 2 to 4 pounds. These watermelons take 65 to 70 days after planting and include varieties like Midget, Garden Baby, Golden Midget and Little Baby Flower.

New Hampshire Midget, Sugar Baby and Petite Sweet fall under another group of small watermelons. This group usually matures in about 75 to 80 days. This also includes Desert Storm and Royal Majesty watermelons too.

Last but not least, you have the group of watermelons that are much larger. These watermelons take on average 90 days to fully mature. They include watermelons like Charleston Gray, Black Diamond, King and Queen, Navajo Sweet and Moon and Stars.

Are watermelons in season? Inspect the ripeness.

In addition to knowing when watermelon season is in your geographical area and knowing the average harvesting time frame, another way you can tell if it’s watermelon season is by inspecting the ripeness. When looking to see if your watermelon is ripe, look for the following features:

Your watermelon’s vine has tendrils that will begin to turn a brownish color and die.

Look at the stem and see if your see a circular crack around the stem.

Feel for soft ends.

Listen for a dull sound by thumping it.

Color changing from a whitish color to a yellowish color.

If you use all these tips, you’ll not only know when watermelon season is, you’ll also get the most out of your watermelon plants.

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Allison Cartwright has been writing professionally since 2009. Cartwright has published several eBooks on craft and garden-related subjects. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas.

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Been Eating Watermelons for Dinner? You Need to Read This

Summer is here, and so is the constant need to keep ourselves hydrated and fresh. What better than a bowl full of watermelon, which is not only tasty, but filling and healthy too. One of those fruits boasting of high-lycopene content, watermelon has a lot to offer, especially when you are looking to lose weight. Rich in numerous nutrients and health benefits, watermelons make for a great snacking option. The fruit is known to promote heart care, healthy kidneys, relief from heat stroke and is believed to help normalise blood pressure too. If you ever feel like binge eating or crave sugar, trust a watermelon to do the job without worrying about the calories. Renowned Nutritionist, Dr. Shilpa Arora shares, ‘Watermelons consist of 94 percent water, lycopene, potassium and a lot of other nutrients. It has fiber that is a wonderful source to keep the digestion process going.’

So while a watermelon may be a healthy fruit to enjoy overall, when you eat it is equally important. It is recommended to not consume watermelons at night right before going to bed. “I would not recommend consumption of watermelon or any fruit after 7 pm. Watermelon is slightly acidic and if consumed at night, it may delay the process of digestion when the body is inactive. The best time to eat watermelon is around 12-1 pm when the digestion rate is high and active.”

Also Read: 5 Side Effects Of Eating Too Much Watermelon

According to experts, watermelons are not a good alternative to munch on at night and may cause certain health issues –

  • Watermelons are not digestion friendly when it comes to consuming it at night and may cause irritable bowel syndrome and other problems, making your stomach upset the next day. The digestive process is slower than usual at night, hence, it is recommended to keep off sugary and acidic foods.

  • Watermelons have a large percentage of natural sugar which may promote weight gain in some cases if eaten at night.
  • Consisting of a huge percentage of water, watermelons may actually lead to frequent trips to the toilet leading to poor sleep and sleep deprivation and fatigue the other day.

What Does Ayurveda Recommend?

Ayurveda, according to Dr. Dhanvantri Tyagi, does not recommend eating watermelon or any fruit at night as they promote diarrhea and in some cases, constipation too. Hence, it is advisable to eat alternative foods rather than fruits. The right time to eat a watermelon is in the morning or afternoon and not after that. “Considering these hot summers, one must remember to soak the watermelon in water for some time, as it minimises any harm to the consumer. You must eat the watermelon right when it is bought, do not store it, and rather have it fresh for best results on health.” Dr. Dhanvantri insists.

The Good Side – Benefits of Watermelons

While nobody recommends consumption of watermelons at night, let us not forget that watermelon when eaten in the daytime has many benefits.
Also Read: Summer Care: 4 DIY Watermelon Juice Face Masks For A Flawless Skin

Here are a few reasons that will make you fall in love with watermelons this summer:

1. Refreshing Fruit to Beat The Heat

The hot sun may take a toll on your body, but watermelons are great to prevent heat strokes. It also keeps you hydrated because of the water content. Try having watermelons regularly so as to prevent yourself from falling sick in summers.

Read also : (Heatwave Safety: 7 Tips You Should Follow This Summer to Stay Healthy)
2. A Friend of Our Kidneys

Watermelons are full of potassium, the nutrient that helps to flush all the toxins from the kidneys.

3. Heart Friendly

Watermelons contain lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant that protects and repairs the body from causing multiple diseases. It also carries beta-carotene that has anti-aging properties that keeps you active and young. Vitamin C and potassium helps reducing cholesterol and keep the heart safe.

4. Good for the Eyes

The phytonutrients present in the watermelons help maintain the healthy functioning of eyes. Lutein, Vitamin C and beta-carotene help in preventing degeneration, hence protecting your eyes from blindness and cataract.
Also Read: Drinking Water After Eating Watermelon: Is it Safe or Not?

5. Maintains High Blood Pressure
The magnesium and potassium contents in the watermelons are responsible for keeping the blood pressure normal.

How to Make the Most of Watermelons

Here are healthy yet fun watermelon drinks to savor this summer!

1. Lime and Watermelon Tonic

The Detox Cookbook & Health Plan book by Maggie Pannell has suggested this refreshing juice that will not only quench your thirst but also cool your body. It reads, “This refreshing juice will help to cool the body, calm the digestion and cleanse the system – and may even have aphrodisiac qualities.” A mix of watermelon, chilled water, lemon juice, clear honey (to taste) and ice cubes will rejuvenate your mind too!
Also Read: 5 Spectacular Benefits of Watermelon and Refreshing Recipes

2. Fresh Watermelon and Cucumber Juice

How about we mix two summer foods together to make a cooler that’s tasty and healthy? Prepare some quick juice from fresh watermelon and cucumbers, with a dash of mint to give it an even better taste. It will help your body cool down from the hot summer day.

3. Watermelon Smoothie

If you feel like having a hearty and heavy watermelon drink, mix some strawberries, watermelon and tangy yoghurt to make a yummy smoothie. Do remember to miss out on sugar as the natural taste of melon and berries will make it sweet enough.

How To Pick A Ripe Watermelon

Everyone starts growing watermelons in their garden thinking that the fruit will grow, they will pick it in the summertime, slice it up and eat it. Basically, it’s that simple if you know what you’re doing. There’s a right time to pick a watermelon, when the watermelon is not too ripe or unripe.

When to Pick Watermelon

Are you wondering how long it takes to harvest a watermelon? This part is simple. The watermelon you planted will be ready about 80 or so days after you plant it from seed. This means, around day 75 or so, depending on how the season was, you can start watching for ripe watermelon. How to pick a ripe watermelon will come to you; you just have to be patient.

Growing watermelons is a wonderful thing to do, especially if you love fruit in the summertime. Knowing when to harvest watermelon is the key. There are many ways to know that it’s the right time to pick a watermelon. The plant and the melon both give you keys to knowing when to harvest watermelon. As to how long it takes to harvest a watermelon, well, it’s not as long as you think.

How to Pick a Ripe Watermelon

First, the curly green tendrils will start to yellow and turn brown. This is a sign that the plant is no longer feeding the watermelons and that the right time to pick a watermelon is at hand.

Second, if you pick up a watermelon and thump it with the palm of your hand, sometimes when they are ripe, you will find that they make a hollow sound. Keep in mind that not all ripe watermelon will make this sound, so if it doesn’t make a hollow sound it doesn’t mean the melon isn’t ripe. However, if it does make the sound, it is most assuredly ready to harvest.

Finally, the surface color of the watermelon will become dull. The underside of the watermelon that was on the ground will also turn light green or yellow if it is time when to pick a watermelon.

As you can see, there are plenty of keys to knowing when to pick watermelon, so you can’t go wrong if you watch for the signs. Once you know when to harvest watermelon, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying fresh watermelon on your summer picnic table.

The Right Way to Tell if a Watermelon is Ripe

Unlike other types of summer fruit, you can’t give a watermelon the sniff test to determine whether it’s ripe and ready to eat. When it comes to watermelon, you have to use your eyes and ears instead. Whether you’re buying watermelon from the grocery store, the farmers’ market, or off the bed of a pick-up truck, look (and listen) for these signs of ripeness.

Green Stem

If the melon still has a bit of its stem attached at one end, make sure it is green and not dried out and brown. A hard, green stem is an indication that the watermelon was harvested recently.

Ground Spot

When a watermelon is ripe, you’ll see a patch of white or yellow rind on its underside. This area is called the ground spot (or belly spot), because it’s the part of the melon that touched the ground and wasn’t exposed to sunlight as it grew. If you can’t find the ground spot, it’s likely that the melon was harvested too soon and didn’t have a chance to fully ripen.

Smooth Skin

Give the rind a close inspection on all sides. Avoid watermelons with cuts and soft spots. It’s okay if the rind on the top of the melon looks a bit faded—that is due to sun exposure, and another sign of ripeness.

Hollow Sound

Opinions vary as to whether you should thump a watermelon or not. Some say you should lightly rap your fist on the underside of the melon and listen for a hollow sound, which indicates that the melon is ready to eat.

Nice and Heavy

The easiest way to tell whether a watermelon is ripe is to simply pick it up. It should feel weighty in your hands, no matter its size.

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