Depending on the variety of cantaloupe, they are usually ripe when they "slip" off the vine. Meaning they readily detach from the vine. Some will also be so fragrant you can smell them just walking by.
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Thanks for all the info. My melons (I planted both watermelon and cantelope), for the first time ever, are doing really well. Since I planted a smaller variety of watermelon, I'm hoping that we will get a harvest.
What about cantelope? I always smell them when I'm at the store or farmers market. That will be tougher when they're on the ground - any other methods?
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This is my first year growing watermelons too, and I wasn't so sure. But, as the other advice have suggested, I am going to wait until the stem starts to turn brownish before I pick mine and I hope that works!
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Watermelons: It is extremely difficult to tell if a watermelon is ripe by just looking; it must be examined. Watermelons will not continue to ripen after harvest. Hold the harvested fruits at 50 degrees to 60 degrees F. Here are indications you can look for:
1. Thump it. If the watermelon sounds hollow (if you hear a dull thump/thud), the melon is usually ripe. This is difficult for less-gifted ears. The unripe melon will have a tighter, metallic ringing or hollow sound. This technique is not perfect however, because the dull sound you hear doesn't indicate if the melon is overripe.
2. Use the criteria of approximate size for variety,
3. Ceasing of growth.
4. Look at the color on the top. The watermelon is ripe when there is little contrast between the stripes. Another indication is when the surface color of the fruit turns dull.
5. Look for the spot where the melon rested on the ground; a yellow-white, yellow or a cream-yellow color spot suggests ripeness and a white or pale green spot indicates immaturity. A green watermelon will have a white bottom; a ripe melon will have a cream- or yellow-colored bottom. Those fruit that show a change of color from green or olive-grey to yellowish brown should be considered ready to harvest. Also look for a breakup of green bands at the blossom end of the fruit. For best quality, walk the patch daily.
6. The rind at the soil spot should toughen and resist denting with a fingernail when the melon is ripe. Scratch the surface of the rind with your thumbnail. If the outer layer slips back with little resistance, showing a green-white color under the rind, the watermelon is ripe. Feel for development of ribbed indentations that can be felt with finger tips. It should be firm but not a rock. If soft or soft spots it�s too far gone. Sponginess is bad.
7. Press on it. If the watermelon sounds like it gives a little, it's ripe. (This method can also ruin the quality of the fruit.)
8. Check the tendril. If the tendril is green, you should wait to pick the melon. Harvest when the curled tendril near the stem, the "pigtail" or tendril closest to the melon on the vine begins to shrivel and dry up. If it dries while the leaves and rest of the vine looks good, the melon should be ripe.
9. Harvest when a small crack appears in the stem just above the melon indicating the melon is ripe. If it's half-dead, it could mean that the watermelon is nearly ripe or ripe. If the tendril is fully dead, it could mean that anthracnose or some other fungus killed the melon, or that it's ripe or overripe. The drying of the stem tendril nearest the attachment point and green color tone are also indicators of ripeness. Sign vary with cultivars.
10. Count the number of days from anthesis (flowering) or the number of days from planting. This works pretty well if you know the variety of watermelon and how many days it's supposed to take for that variety to ripen under normal temperature and fertilizer regimes.
11. The slipping of the stem from the melon with slight finger pressure is an excellent indicator of melon ripeness in the field.
I just read that it must have a light patch where it touches the ground or it was picked too early. But also it needs to feel heavy, like it's full of water/juice. BUT I haven't grown them myself! Good luck!
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Wish I could help. I've been trying to grow them for 3 years straight and they don't thrive. I had a volunteer once under a tree that was huge and late season. I picked it on Halloween and it was super.
Just a guess...should the vine to it be shrivelled and pop easily off with thumb pressure?
This year I planted watermelon for the first time. My hubby loves them and I thought it would be fun. I have them growing up a trellis so there will not be a light area underneath where they sit on the ground.... The package says they grow to 8-12 pounds each but can't weigh the on the vine.... One thing I read says to harvest when the skin is no longer shiney, but this skin has been dull for a while now....
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