Is there a way to know a watermelon is ripe and ready for picking? Yes, sort of. There are four clues that indicate a watermelon may be ready to harvest.
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Is This Watermelon Ready to Be Picked?
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This is a topic that comes with a lot of folklore!
How can you tell when the watermelon you’re growing is ripe and ready to be picked?
Advice includes knocking on the rind and checking for color changes. But does this help?
Some tips will aim you in the right direction, but, ultimately, the only way to be certain a watermelon is ripe is to cut it open and check.
And, since watermelon cannot continue growing or ripening after picking (or cutting open), this option is not great unless you have plenty to harvest or nothing to lose with freezing weather on the way.
To add to the stress, it’s also easy to let watermelon get too ripe on the vine and we cut it open to find fermenting mush. Yuck!
That leaves us with a fairly narrow window of time—sometimes just a few days— to make the right call and pick at peak ripeness.
The tips (below) will help you get the timing right.
4 Clues Watermelon May be Ripe and Ready to Pick
1) Days to Maturity
If you know the type of watermelon you are growing, look up the estimated days to maturity.
Depending on the variety, this may range from 60 to 110 days.
- How long have you been growing it?
- Did it have lots of sun and water throughout the growing season?
Many fruits like watermelon can only begin ripening when they have reached maturity.
So, check your calendar and see if it’s time.
Knock, knock! This is a popular tip but difficult for beginners.
Thump the watermelon with your knuckles and listen to the sound it makes.
Ripe watermelons produce a hollow sound.
Under and over-ripe watermelons may produce a thud.
It’s hard to imagine getting good at this unless you had a whole bunch to test and confirm!
We suspect it will also vary with variety and size.
But lots of people swear they have an ear for ripe watermelon sounds, so knock yourself out.
3) Field Spot
There are exceptions to this one—as there always are in gardening—but the ‘field spot’, the part of the fruit that touches the ground as its growing, can turn yellowish as the fruit becomes ripe.
If it’s white, it’s not ready.
But, this is not a universal rule for all watermelons—just one other possible clue to check. I use it when buying melons at the store.
4) Curly Tendril Color
This is one I’ve used as a sign of possible ripeness in my garden: the color of the curly tendril nearest the top of the melon where the stem joins the fruit.
If it’s green, the watermelon is still ripening.
Once it turns brown and dries out, you have a ripe melon, or possibly over-ripe melon.
It’s something to pay attention to in combination with the other tips.
And, if the growing season is ending, maybe you just pick that watermelon, cut it open, and have a taste.
The only full-proof way to know if a watermelon is ripe is to cut it open and check.
Other signs include:
- Number of days the fruit has been growing. Is it mature?
- The sound the fruit makes when you knock on it with your knuckles. A hollow sound is a positive sign.
- A yellow (not white) field spot. This is the section of the watermelon that rests on the ground.
- Brown and dry tendril(s) near the part where the stem meets the fruit.
Now, let’s eat. I hope it’s delicious.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛