Florida is the leading watermelon producer in the nation, followed by Georgia, Texas and California, according to the National Watermelon Promotion Board. However the best watermelons are grown in the Hermiston, Oregon area which includes Irrigon, Umatilla, Stanfield, and Boardman. Melons grown elsewhere, don’t have the sugar levels of a Hermiston, Oregon watermelon. The U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies a good marketable melon as one with an 8 percent sugar level, while a Hermiston melon can have up to 13 percent sugar. But unless you live in the Pacific Northwest you will probably never know what you are missing. All watermelons grown in the United States and Mexico tend to be very, very, good. Watermelons need hot, sunny days and cool nights to ripen and produce their distinctively sweet flavor.

Don’t waste your time smelling watermelons as this method does not work. As you will soon learn color, weight, and sound are the best indicators.

Some people will tell you that watermelons don’t ripen any further once it has been picked. I don’t believe that to be true and if you leave them in the frig too long they will over ripen. What watermelons don’t do is sweeten up any after they are picked. That has to be done in the field and on the vine. It should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. If you don’t see this spot or if it’s there, but it’s a greenish-white color instead of yellowish – it’s probably not ripe enough. Take a pass and move on to the next melon.

Picking out a watermelon might appear to be easy but it’s actually difficult if you don’t know what you are doing. You could end up buying a watermelon that you don’t like. In order to prevent that from happening, all you need to learn is just two or three of the ten tips so that way you can pick out the perfect one.

Watermelons, the fruit that is really a Vegetable or should we say the vegetable that is actually a fruit. So what is watermelon a fruit or vegetable? The answer is debatable. Watermelon can be considered a vegetable because it is picked from the field like other vegetables and it is in the same family as the squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers. But it is also a fruit because it grows from a seed and has a very sweet flavor that no vegetable has. My personal answer is that watermelon is a fruit.

Watermelons are a crowd pleaser enjoyed by many mostly in the summer.They contain over 90% water.
Since some people complained that watermelons are so big, a lot of small varieties have been developed that are as sweet as their big brothers.

Watermelons have some good health benefits such as good source of vitamin C and Vitamin A, contains dietary fiber for digestive health and potassium that can contribute in keeping blood pressure under control. Watermelon contains more lycopene (a super antioxidant) than raw tomatoes. A Spanish study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the juice of watermelons can relieve muscle soreness as it contains a natural substance called citrulline. This even helps to relax the boold vessels and researchers say may have Viagra-Like effects. Of course a watermelon is packed with water which helps keep one from being dehydrated.

Well let’s get this party started as presents The Top Ten Tips for Picking out a Good Watermelon.

1. Checking the tendril, or curl.

If the watermelon is still in the field you can tell when a watermelon is ready by checking the tendril, or curl, that connects the melon to the vine. “If it’s still green, the watermelon is very likely not ripe. If it is brown and dead, the fruit may be ripe. Watermelons, like cucumbers, continue to produce fruit. After one melon is harvested, another begins to grow, Oregon farmer Steve Walker says. “Basically, we pick until the vines die and they quit growing,” he said. “They last until it frosts.” “You’ve got to keep picking them to keep them growing,” he said. Look for a stem that’s shrunken and discolored. If the stem is green – the watermelon is too green and not ripe. The skin should be dull, not shiny.


Photo Source:

2. Don’t buy if grown with Sprinklers

If the watermelon farmer used sprinklers to irrigate the crop don’t buy them that is unless you want your watermelon to be crisp like an apple. That might be a little exaggerated but they are really less sweet and juicy. Sprinklers also are considered a less efficient technique because, in some conditions, even more water is lost to evaporation and wind drift. Bottom line is that watermelons grown by flood irrigation will be sweeter and less tightly wound. This is done by making a little ditch and running water down the row next to the vine. The modern method is to use drip irrigation with row covers.


Photo Source:

3. Pick a store/fruit stand

Choose a grocery store that you typically like buying fresh fruit and vegetables from. Having a better selection means you’ll have a better shot at finding a ripe watermelon. Your best option is to stop by a roadside fruit stand where farmers sell directly to the consumer.

Bellinger Farms, Hermistong, Oregon
Bellinger Farms, Hermistong, Oregon

Photo Source:

4. Look at the color of the watermelon.

Always pay close attention to the color of the watermelon. Just because the watermelon might be shiny doesn’t mean that it’s a good one. In fact, shiny watermelons mean that it’s not ripe enough. Ripe watermelons will be duller in color, but have a shiny complexion. Sometimes this is a close call. Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Photo Source:

5. Check the sex of the watermelon

Keep in mind the type of watermelon you want. Females tend to be larger, sweeter and have less seeds than males. To find out if a watermelon is male or female, look at the bottom side and find a ring that is going in the opposite direction of the other watermelon’s circles. Smaller ring sizes, about the size of a penny, are male watermelons. Female watermelons may have a larger quarter sized ring. Checking the sex of a watermelon is a little difficult. They all look the same to me. Probably easier to tell the sex on seeded watermelons than seedless. Keep in mind that seeded watermelons tend to be a little sweeter than seedless and sell for a lower price. We always sacrifice a little for convenience. Personally, I go withe the seedless as they don’t crack as much inside and they are easier to cut and store. The farmers pay a very high price for the seeds which make them a little more expensive than the seeded melons. Seedless melons to have some small seeds but you just eat them.



6. Check for bee stings.

Look for “webbing” . This is the brown, course web looking material. This is caused when bees pollinate the flower and scar the membranes that later forms the fruit. The more pollination = more webbing = sweeter.

Photo Source:

7. Find the field spot.

The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot, known as the field spot. This is where the melon sat on the ground and ripened in the sun, so the darker it is the better. If the field spot is white, or even nonexistent, this probably means that the watermelon was picked too soon, and will not be ripe.

Photo Source: TipTopTens.comh

8. Check the weight.

Pick up the watermelon and check to see how heavy it is because when a watermelon is heavy that means it’s ripe and perfect to eat. When it’s not heavy then that means you’re in for a disappointment. Compare all of the weights of the watermelons. The heaviest watermelon means that it’s the ripest one in the group; and if you don’t feel any lumps or bumps on it then grab that one before it goes. Beware that over ripe melons will also be heavy.

Photo Source:

9. Thump on the watermelon

Most people tap on the watermelon to listen for the right sound. An unripe watermelon will ‘ping’ when thumped. A ripe melon you will hear a punk. An overripe watermelon will ‘thud. The one you want to buy is somewhere in between.It is not as simple as it sounds and is actually an art form. Never use the thump method on its own.

Don’t do the following tip unless you want to break the poor watermelons heart. Hold the watermelon in your hands and squeeze it, listen very closely for soft cracking inside. This means that the watermelon is ripe.

The following is a joke OK – well sort of. If you are in a grocery store find the first guy you see who has a big gut. Tap with two fingers on his belly with a little bit of power and listen carefully for the sound. Now if you go thump the actual watermelon and it sounds like his belly then you can be assured it is overripe. Now tap on his forehead and listen carefully for the sound. Now if you hear that sound when you tap on a watermelon then you can be assured it is not ripe. Now find a man with a hard chest and thump it with two fingers. Don’t worry about hurting him since he is a muscle man and don’t feel no pain. Listen carefully to the sound and and then thump a melon and if it sounds the same it is probably ripe.

Photo Source:

10. Combine steps, seven, eight, and nine.

Combine steps 7, 8, and 9 and chances of picking out a good watermelon are excellent. If you’re still unsure about the watermelon then never be afraid to ask someone for help. Most of the people who work in produce or at the market can help you with being able to determine if the watermelon is ripe or not.

Or as a last resort you can pay twice the price and buy one already cut, but that might be a better plan because you can know exactly what you are getting. Make sure the flesh is dark red and firm.

Kavan selling watermelons at the Pendleton, Oregon Farmers Market
Kavan selling watermelons at the Pendleton, Oregon Farmers Market



Watermelons make a great snack regardless of what time of day it is but that’s not all. You can make some nice watermelon juice and serve it at a party or just treat yourself to it. Watermelon is a great way to cool down during the hot summer days and it’s a very healthy treat to have. People of all ages enjoy having a nice ripe watermelon.

Best advice here is to not use just one of the ten tips. I like to thump them but thumping alone is a gamble, you want a sure thing so choose three of the tips above and you should succeed.

Watermelons are here to make you happy. But paying good money for one and finding out it is not ripe or over ripe can make you depressed and unhappy. One thing you may consider doing it to take a knife and cut a plug out of the melon and try a bite and then plug it back up. But I don’t think the grocery stores would like that. So why don’t you buy the watermelon and take it out to your car and plug it. If it is either not ripe or if it is unripe march right back in the store and demand them to give you a replacement.


Bonus Reading
Author Arlen Bischke and his love of watermelons

The year was 1968 and I was loading watermelons with a line of five guys throwing the melons carefully into a truck. Until finally the last watermelon gets loaded and my father the late Reinhold Bischke who would be catching and skillfully stacking all of those watermelons in the truck would say “That’s the one I have been looking for”. Referring to the last watermelon that goes into the truck of course. He would be especially happy if the crew did not drop any of the melons in the process of tossing them to each other and into the truck. Unlike nowadays it would be the local teenage boys working in the fields, not migrant field workers. I would dive in a patch of stickers to prevent dropping one of these melons that put food on the table and of course bought me my first motorcycle. Not everyone else was as skillful as me and watermelons would get dropped. You had to be pretty fast to beat me to that sweet Hermiston Melon. Who ever got there first would thrust their hand into the damaged watermelon and grab the heart and quickly eat it. The heart of a seeded watermelon grown in the sandy soils of Hermiston, Oregon, considered the best place on earth to grow melons would be sweet. I don’t mean a little sweet. I mean sugar sweet like nothing I have ever eaten before. I would eat hundreds of watermelon hearts per summer from all those unskilled high school boys dropping them.
My grandfather Frank Walker was the first to grow watermelons commercially in Oregon at least that is what my mother Mabel Bischke tells me.

Frank Walker was the first to grow watermelons commercially in the Hermiston area.
Frank Walker was the first to grow watermelons commercially in the Hermiston area. He set up his sons and his son in law with watermelon farms of their own. Steve Walker carries on the tradition and hopefully his son will become the fourth generation watermelon farmer.

There is three main reason that when I ate the heart out of a watermelon in 1968 that it was so very sweet. First it was the sandy soil. Second it was the cool nights. Lastly, they were flood irrigated. My father did this by making little trenches with his tractor and running water down the rows and letting the water soak into the soil. My father had two bad years because of blight and had to sell the 40 acre farm and get a job. My uncle Woodrow Walker who followed in his fathers (my grandfathers) footsteps was a very successful watermelon farmer. He grew the most acres (like 300 I think) and made the most money. His brothers Henry and Gilbert also successfully grew watermelons followed by their sons Dick, Wesley, and Steve. Only Steve Walker is still growing watermelons. He is a college educated hard working farmer. In my opinion Woodrow made a huge mistake with something called progress. He started watering his crops with these gigantic sprinklers. Using sprinklers takes sweetness away from the watermelon and makes them crisp like an apple. This may be a slight exaggeration but you get the point. Woodrow’s Son Steve also started out with sprinklers but used his college degree to get smart and now uses what they call drip irrigation which is just as good for sweetness and more efficient than flood irrigating. So now after decades and decades without eating a sweet, sweet melon like in the 60’s and 70’s I can again enjoy Hermiston Watermelons grown by Steve Walker, Bellinger farms, and others.

After completin his time in the Army Reinhold started raising W help of Frank Walker is father inlaw
After completing his time in the Army Reinhold Bischke started raising Watermelons with help from his father in law Frank Walker