When to Harvest Watermelon: A Guide to Perfectly Ripe Fruit

Watermelon is a delicious and refreshing fruit that is enjoyed by many during the hot summer months. However, knowing when to harvest watermelon can be a bit tricky, especially for those who are new to growing this fruit. Harvesting watermelon at the right time is crucial to ensure that it has reached its peak sweetness and flavor.

I grow a lot of watermelons each year and they are one of my must-have plants to grow in the summer, in this article, I will share my tips on how to determine when your watermelon is ready to be picked so you can enjoy this delicious fruit at its best.

How Do You Know When to Cut a Watermelon Off the Vine?

Picking a watermelon too early will result in an underripe, flavorless fruit while waiting too long can cause the fruit to become overripe and mushy. So, how do you know when to cut a watermelon off the vine?

There are many people out there will tell you a lot of indicators of watermelon ripeness, such as trying to tap to the watermelons and the deeper the sound, the more ripper they are. Or looking at the spot on the bottom of the melon, wait for that spot to turn from white or pale green to yellow, I’ve tried these methods but they are not reliable and sometimes not convenient as well. Believe me, you don’t want to turn your melon as often, and looking under it to see if the fruit is ripened or not, especially if you place your melon in a basket.

The most reliable factor to consider ( and the most convenient as well) whenever the melon is ripened is the color of the tendrils. Tendrils are the curly, green vines that grow opposite the stem of the watermelon. When you see the tendrils are completely brown and dried up, it’s a sign that the watermelon is ripe and ready to be harvested.

If you can check your melon often, when you see the tendrils are completely brown and dried up, you can cut off the water for a few days and then harvest the melon after that. I do it that way and always have my melon ripen at best!

How To Harvest Watermelon Properly?

When harvesting, I usually use a sharp knife or pruning shears to cut the watermelon from the vine, leaving a few inches of stem attached. This will help keep the fruit fresh and prevent it from rotting.

Do Watermelons Ripen off the Vine?

The short answer is no, watermelons do not ripen off the vine. Once a watermelon is harvested, it will not continue to ripen or become sweeter. This is because watermelons do not produce additional sugar after they are picked.

However, watermelons can still be stored after they are harvested. If stored properly, they can last for several weeks. It is important to keep them in a cool, dry place and avoid storing them in direct sunlight. Uncut watermelons have a shorter refrigerator life, so store at room temperature until ready to chill and eat. Tightly cover cut pieces in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

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Ana Harned

With over a decade of experience in gardening and horticulture, Ana Harned is a passionate botanist dedicated to promoting sustainable gardening practices. She holds a degree in botany and currently serves as the editor for Backyard Gardeners Network. Ana's love for gardening extends beyond her personal garden, as she enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with others about the joys and benefits of cultivating plants.

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