Most watermelons take between 75-90 days from the time you plant the seeds until the time you can harvest them. But sometimes you just forget when you planted them or you become inpatient and perhaps want to pick them before they have reached perfection. Commercial growers use a refractometer to measure the sugar content (brix) from a sample of melons throughout the field. But for small farms and home growers, there are a few simple things to check for that will indicate a ripe watermelon on the vine:
- If you’ve been checking the melons often and have noticed they aren’t growing anymore, they might be ready to pick. See the following:
- Check the stem connecting the watermelon to the plant. If the stem has become dried and brown, you can pick your melon.
- The surface color of a ripe melon will become dull and the contrast between the stripes will intensify.
- Run your finger around the fat middle of the watermelon. If you can feel slight ridges, that is a good indicator of a ripe juicy inside.
- When the spot where the watermelon touches the ground becomes yellowish in color, you have a ripe one. If the part touching the ground is at all green or white, you need to let it ripen further.
- Give it a knock knock. If it sounds like a hollow thump/thud, then you can pick it. (I always have a hard time with this one, but perhaps my ears just don’t hear the subtle differences). If it has more of a ping sound, it’s still green.
- If the vine is dead or dying you should go ahead and pick it. It’s not going to ripen any further.
To find locally grown watermelons and other perfectly ripe and seasonal produce, check Pick-A-Pepper.com!
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