When to Harvest Watermelon
Firstly, I live about 15 miles east of Athens, GA. I am really new to growing watermelons, so determining "ripeness" is a deep concern - they are NOT tomatoes. I am growing Bush Sugar Babies from seed in back and Crimson Sweet from purchased plants in front. The Bush Sugar Baby's are behaving nicely - "small area". The Crimson Sweet plants remind me of Kudzu. LOL When I planted, I saw suggestions of 9 to 10-ft for the vines. Uh, how about 20-ft and still going? I did prune some, but whatever - I have the room. Some will grow in the "weeds".
Back to the topic at hand - ripeness. I picked one Crimson Sweet watermelon with a sort of "butter" (yellow) colored bottom and DEAD tendril. 20-lbs maybe. It was 2/3's ripe. Have since picked 3 or 4 more at 25 to 30+ lbs that were ripe. Dead tendril of course, but in addition to the yellowish bottom (nothing that is stark), started turning kind of yellow all over - especially on top - perfectly ripe. Thing is, the bottom of my Crimson Sweet never get to the "Butter Colored" ground spot. Some pale yellowish here and there, but definite "butter colored"? No.
In regards to the Bush Sugar Babies, I have a few that are set on. One in particular I think is ready or close to ready. Probably 15 lbs? Dead tendril - finally, but "Butter Colored" bottom on mine will not work at all. ALL of my Sugar Baby melons, regardless of age and size have a DEEP BUTTER COLORED ground spot. Hmm, now what. I read a forum where many folks complained they picked when the tendril died only to get a white melon inside. Someone suggested waiting another 7-10 days AFTER the tendril died to pick. Going to find out next week.
That brings up a question I have - How long after a watermelon is ripe on the vine do u have before it is over-ripe? (I realize there is no definitive answer) That is, what is the window-of-opportunity to pick a nice ripe melon? It really stinks to think u might jump the gun thinking is ripe, to get under-ripe, but once u think is ripe, how long do u have to decide? Thx!
I’m not the expert, but my farm-raised daughter’s boyfriend, says if you pick up a watermelon and it is heavier than it looks, it should be ripe and sweet.
Tried this method this year and we’re three for three so far!
If you put one hand on one side of the melon and with your other hand open, tap the melon soundly. If you can feel the percussion with you other hand, it is ripe. If the sound stops and you can't feel it, it is too ripe and wet in the middle. It should "thump" NOT "thud".
I have not heard this about the percussion> I will try that this year too. I have never been able to get it right either. If I would have picked my rogue crimson when the tendril was dead it surely would have been white inside. Cuz I looked at the packet and it says 85-90 days, and there was a a whole month left to even get to 80 days. So, this year I am trying to just mark it my calendar and go from there. Thumping never works for me, the tendril thing always seems too early for me, and I don't get a yellow spot because I place them on the plastic trays because I've noticed some bugs trying to burrow into the rind when on the ground. Last year was so wet here in GA they got a virus, and all died before they were ripe. I only have 2 watermelon that are looking decent. everything else had died off. It hasn't been easy for them. I don't know what I need to do. More room probably, but I really don't have any to spare to just let the vines roam. so It is what it is, I suppose. Good luck everyone.
I grow sugar babies inside hydroponically using just a bucket of nutrients and no aeration. I found that waiting until the tendril was fully dried out and the ground spot bright yellow, they were a bit overripe. But if I picked them when the tendril was dry but not fully dry, they are perfect. I started rotating them around to expose all sides to the lights, so no more ground spot to try to judge ripeness anymore.
I grow the Sugar Baby and the Crimson Sweet. The Sugar Babies do turn yellow on the bottom where it contacts the soil, as do the Crimsons. I also notice the vines starting to brown and curl as well indicating that they are ready to be picked. I have 5 in total this year. 3 of the Sugar Babies and 2 of the Crimsons. I live in the South Okanagan Canada. I planted each seedling (just 1 plant of each type) at the beginning of May directly into the soil of a raised garden bed that is attached to the house so lots of warm soil which is the secret to growing large healthy melons!
I've been watching a watermelon in my garden ripen, but over the past week it stopped growing. It looks big and ready, but the bottom has not turned white or yellow. Any other way to tell if it's ready?