The Q&A Archives: When to Harvest Melons

Question: How do you know when melons are ready to pull from the vine?

Answer: It is a bit of a guessing game to tell when a melon is fully ripe. There are however several indicators to look for, depending on the type of melon.

Watermelons have a "ground spot", a light colored area where the fruit contacts the ground. When the melon is ripe this spot changes from its normal light green color to a creamy color. There is also a tendril attached to the vine adjacent to where the melon attaches. This tendril will dry up as the melon approaches fully ripe. With so many sizes, colors, and marking patterns on watermelon varieties, it really helps to know the variety you are growing. Experience is a great teacher.

Muskmelon or canteloupe have a netted skin. Look for the skin color inside the netting to change from green to a cream color. The "belly button" where the vine attaches to the canteloupe is another indicator. It will begin to detach. When it is 3/4 detached (growers call this 3/4 slip stage) you can pick the fruit. Finally, I find that smell is a good test tool. As a canteloupe ripens it gets that wonderful fragrance detectable even on the outside.

Hope these tips help make your 4th of July a delicious one!

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