Watermelons are a classic summer favorite. Extra sweet, crisp and delicious seedless melons are now the preferred types for consumers. Novelty fruit such as yellow watermelons are growing in popularity. You'll also find pre-cut slices showing up at markets and grocery stores, which have a lot of appeal.
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Delicious, sweet and 95% liquid—nothing is quite as refreshing as a chilled slice of watermelon on a hot summer’s day. First cultivated in northern Africa, the watermelon is a warm weather crop, requiring hot days and warm nights to fully mature, most particularly in the case of the larger varieties.
Start seed indoors at 85°F. soil temperature, 3-4 weeks before setting out.
When is a watermelon ripe? There are several schools of thought on this subject. Many believe that the surest way to know is when the fruit makes a dull, hollow sound when tapped. Others, however, recommend looking at the bottom surface of the fruit. When the “ground spot” has turned bright yellow, it’s ripe and ready for picking. Still others insist that the twisted tendril nearest the fruit must have turned brown.
Fresh Market Grower Tips:
Watermelon is a classic summertime treat, and consumers seek out direct market growers for sweet, juicy, crunchy melons at the height of freshness. Red fleshed watermelons are the traditional favorite, but many customers are excited to try yellow and orange fleshed melons, especially when you offer samples at your farm stand. While customers still purchase seeded watermelons, many have discovered the convenience and great taste of seedless melons. Fortunately, today’s seedless watermelons can be raised successfully in both the Northern and Southern parts of the country. Read and carefully follow the cultural directions on this page for best results.
Seeded Watermelon Culture:
Plant seeds 1/2-1" deep into Jiffy Pellets or sterile mix in Jiffy Pots with a soil temperature of 75-80º F. They should germinate in about a week if kept moderately
moist. Set plants into the field after the threat of frost has passed. Hot Kaps, row covers or plastic tunnels will provide protection from low temperatures or damaging
winds. Plastic Mulch can be used to maintain soil temperatures, retain soil moisture and control weeds in the row. All melons prefer sandy loam soil with a pH 6.0-6.8 and set the best yields when beehives are added to pollinate flowers. Maturity dates are from transplanting and should be used only for variety comparison.
SEEDLESS WATERMELONS FOR NORTHERN GROWERS
Although we think of watermelons as a Southern crop, they grow as easily as cantaloupe in the North, offer more consistent quality, and are increasingly sought out by consumers. It is critical to start seedless melons as transplants at high soil temperatures, as described here. Harris Seeds’ new high temperature heat mat can
be a valuable tool, but some growers contract with a professional seedling grower to ensure consistent results. Most Northeastern growers raise seedless watermelons
using plastic mulch, raised beds, and drip irrigation. IRT green plastic mulches (like Harris Seeds’ SRM Olive Mulch) are very beneficial in cooler or shorter growing seasons. Since watermelons are tropical plants, it’s best to transplant them after weather is warm, not just frost-free. Don’t forget bees; one hive per acre is the recommended minimum. Bee activity is adequate when one bee is present for every 100 blossoms between 6:00 and 10:00 am.
Harris Moran’s seedless watermelon program has produced vigorous varieties like Millionaire, Millenium, Troubador, and Gypsy that perform well in a less-than-ideal
climates. In particular, Vagabond and Crunchy Red offer outstanding quality. They have the high level of sweetness that consumers expect, along with a crunchy texture. Even if you are not a fan of watermelon, these will open your eyes.
SEEDLESS WATERMELON CULTURE:
Water a sterile seed starting mix and allow it to dry for 24-48 hours before seeding. Seeds need a soil temperature of at least 90°F for germination, so make sure media is heated before planting and maintains a 90°F temperature for 48-72 hours after seeding, or until germination begins. This soil temperature may be achieved in a germination room or by using our high-temperature heat mat. After germination begins, reduce soil temperature to 80°F and water only as needed for the first week. DO NOT OVER WATER! Once the seedlings are established, temperature and watering may be adjusted to achieve sturdy plants.
You will need to purchase a pollinator for use with the seedless varieties. We highly recommend that you use Side Kick or Accomplice for this purpose, as they flower
early and continuously throughout the pollination period. To ensure proper pollination it is recommended that you plant one pollinator for every three seedless plants. Plant
in the row with the seedless variety. Tests indicate that bees will tend to work up and down the row, rather than from one row to the next. Planting in this way will help to
improve pollination, thus increasing yield potential. Please note: The use of bees, plastic mulch and drip irrigation are highly recommended. Seedless melons
grown under stress will produce hard, dark colored seeds.
Average Seed Count:
30 per packet; 500/oz.; 5,000-15,000/lb.