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Watermelon Harvesting and Handling – An Insight

Watermelons are summer crops that need effective handling for quality production. To produce the red, juicy, crispy variety of melons, special care and attention is obligatory. To determine the quality and ripeness of watermelons without tasting is not an simple task as external color or appearance does not really reveal the quality of the flesh inside. This task of determining the quality of watermelons without tasting requires the aid of a skillful hand.

Watermelons are warm, long season crops and grow best on well-drained sandy loam soils with slight acid. Sandy soils with adequate fertilizers yield very fine quality watermelons. Watermelon is honestly tolerant to soil pH as low as 5.5. Watermelon grows best where soil pH is between 6.0 and 7.0. Application of lime to a low pH soil can yield better results. Before planting the seeds of watermelons, much labor is invested to prepare the soil. In addition to plowing and disking, sub soiling beneath the row promotes deeper rooting in soils having a compacted layer. In case of strong winds, windbreaks of fall-planted wheat or rye or spring-planted hybrid Sudan helps to provide some protection to young plants. The windbreak crop between the rows is cultivated or disked out as the watermelon vines start to run. A narrow windbreak strip can be left standing between rows for wind protection later in the season, but it should be undercut or killed with chemicals to reduce competition with the watermelon crop.

Depending on variety and season, watermelons reach harvest maturity five to six weeks after pollination. Different varieties of watermelons carry different characteristics, thus indicating different levels of maturity. Experts on the field can easily identify a ripe melon just by glancing at its glossy rind surface. Other indications of ripeness include a change in the color of the ground spot from white to light yellow; a change of tendrils nearest the fruit from green to brown and dry; on thumping the fruit, a metallic ringing sound indicates immaturity and a more muffled or dull sound indicates maturity or over maturity. Thumping is a reliable technique to detect over maturity in round-shaped melons. The best method is to cut a few melons in various parts of the field. Harvesting and marketing green or overripe melons lessens the demand by the consuming public. The sugar content of watermelons does not increase after harvest. But, the red color continues to develop after a slightly immature melon is picked.

Watermelon pruning is also an vital step to meet consumer demands for different melon varieties. In fact, pruning of watermelons should start immediately when a defective melon is noted. Removal of rotten melons should be done to promote another additional set of better-sized watermelons. If there is a greater demand for larger melons, remove all but two or three well-shaped melons from each plant. One vital thing to note is the avoidance of pruning melons in wet condition in order to prevent spread of diseases.

Watermelons can be stored up to 3 weeks at 52 to 60 F. But, they are not suitable to storage for a long duration. Below 50 F, they are subject to chilling injury and lose flavor and color. If necessary, watermelons will easily remain fresh for 2 to 3 weeks at 52°Fto 60°F. Relative humidity should be 85% to 90%; higher humidity may promote stem-end rot. Watermelons are not adapted to long storage. They are subject to chilling injury and lose flavor and color below 50°F.

Production of watermelons thus requires effective care and handling to yield best results. Watermelons have become an all-time American favorite on account of the multiple health benefits that they have to offer. Researches are still going on to grow different varieties of watermelons, like mini watermelons or low sugar melons for diabetics. ARS’s South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory in Lane, Oklahoma, is now engaged in some breakthrough experiments to grow watermelon with low sugar content. To be precise, there’s lots’ happening in the sundiacorp.com watermelon world. Just wait to reap in the benefits!

Suzanne Macguire is an Internet marketing professional with expertise in content development and technical writing in a variety of industries.
sundiacorp.com Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Honeydew

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One Comment on “Watermelon Harvesting and Handling – An Insight”

  • Done wrote on 2 July, 2009, 10:10

    thx

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