The Q&A Archives: Over-ripe Watermelon

Question: I am growing "Sugar Baby" watermelons for the first time this year. When I cut one open it has very thin rind of fruit and the seeds are held in place with a fibrous mass that is very mushy. Did I wait too long to harvest them, or is there something else?

Answer: It sounds like it got over ripe. Watermelons are very hard to judge! Some gardeners go by the sound; when thumped a ripe melon sounds a dull thud and an unripe melon rings. Other gardeners go by the color of the spot on the bottom where the melon touches the ground -- this is more reliable in my experience. When that spot turns from white to a pale buttery yellow, it should be ready. You may also see brown tendrils near the fruit and finally, the skin may begin to feel slightly ridged. As a rule of thumb, the smaller melons tend to ripen in about 80 days, compared to say 100 for some of the larger varieties.

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