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For watermelon ripeness, gardeners can check for signs

If you’re growing your first watermelons, you may look at the developing fruit on the vine wondering if it’s ripe. The melons may appear large, green with beautiful stripes and ripe, but they haven’t been there the full 72-80 days the variety seed packet lists for the growing time.

Do you pick the melons or do you wait the full growing schedule?

Several indicators on the melons and vines should be checked first to determine ripeness.

“Not all varieties will exhibit each trait, though some will,” writes Tony Bratsch, Virginia Cooperative Extension specialist with the Virginia Tech Department of Horticulture, in the article “Notes on Harvesting and Handling Melons.”

Some of the indicators include a color change of the spot where the watermelon rests on the ground. Bratsch writes that this particular spot will change from “green/white to creamish or a slight or even bright yellow” color.

Also, the color and tone of the watermelon skin starts to shine.

Another sign the watermelon has ripened occurs with the tendril, which becomes dry when the melon is ready.

“Familiarity as to ideal harvest condition with a given variety will take some practice,” Bratsch writes.

So if your watermelons have the ripened indicators, Bratsch suggest cutting the vine, instead of pulling or breaking it from the watermelon.

And if you’re new to growing watermelons but don’t see any of the indicators, cutting one or two and slicing them may be the best way to learn if the particular variety is ready.

Some watermelon varieties have a bright yellow spot on the underside when they ripen.
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