Watermelon

Jackson Reeves, a grower at Reeves Peach Farm in Hartselle, holds two large watermelons. There is no single method to determine if a watermelon is ready to be picked.

Summertime in the South means the smell of cut grass, playing in the sprinklers and watermelon. The perfect watermelon on a hot summer day is sweet, juicy and bright red.

Picking the perfect ripe watermelon, however, can be tricky. Joe Kemble, an Alabama Extension vegetable specialist, said there is no single method that is consistently correct to tell if a watermelon is ready. It is usually best to use a combination of several methods to evaluate the ripeness of a watermelon.

Maturity

If you are growing watermelons from seeds or transplants, don’t forget to note the number of days from seeding to maturity. Most varieties are ready in 80 to 90 days. If you are not sure or lost the seed packet or tag, look up the variety that you are growing on the internet. Growers should be able to find the days to maturity in seed catalogues or gardening articles.

However, be aware this number is not set in stone. Maturity and ripeness can differ based on weather, location and nutritional status of the plants. In some watermelon varieties, the melons may ripen a week earlier or a week later than the listed days to maturity.

Ground scar

The presence of a ground scar (belly spot) can be helpful in some varieties. However, not all varieties develop prominent ground scars. In striped watermelon varieties, the ground scar should be prominent, where the stripes