Pick a Good Watermelon
It's as easy as 1, 2, 3.

1. Look the watermelon over.
You are looking for a firm, symmetrical watermelon that is free from bruises, cuts or dents.

2. Lift it up.
The watermelon should be heavy for it's size. Watermelon is 92% water, most of the weight is water.

3. Turn it over.
The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot from where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.



How a Watermelon is Grown
You need three things to grow watermelon: sun, bees and water. Farmers generally grow watermelon in rows, 8-12 feet apart, in raised beds 4-12 inches high composed of fertilized sand or sandy loam.

Tiny watermelon plants from a transplant nursery can be implanted in the beds. Honeybees must pollinate the yellow watermelon blossom. Even the sterile, seedless watermelon requires pollination in order to fruit. In a month, a vine may spread to as much as 6-8 feet. Within 60 days, the vine produces its first watermelons. The crop is ready to harvest within 3 months.

The rind of a watermelon is not as tough as it looks, so it is still handpicked. Watermelon pickers look for a pale or buttery yellow spot on the bottom, indicating ripeness. Many watermelon pickers have their own tricks or hand-me-down methods; however, we look for the yellow belly ground spot just like the pickers do.



Where do Seedless Watermelons Come From ?
Seedless watermelons were invented over 50 years ago, and they have few or no seeds. When we say seeds, we are talking about mature seeds, the black ones. Oftentimes, the white seed coats where a seed did not mature are assumed to be seeds. But this isn’t the case! They are perfectly safe to swallow while eating, and don’t worry - no seeds will grow in your stomach.

So, how are seedless watermelons grown? Chromosomes are the building blocks that give characteristics, or traits, to living things including plants and watermelons. Watermelon breeders discovered that crossing a diploid plant (bearing the standard two sets of chromosomes) with a tetraploid plant (having four sets of chromosomes) results in a fruit that produces a triploid seed. (Yes, it has three sets of chromosomes). This triploid seed is the seed that produces seedless watermelons!

 In other words, a seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid which is created by crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seed coats inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds. This is similar to the mule, produced by crossing a horse with a donkey. This process does not involve genetic modification.



Fun Facts
  • The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt.
  • Watermelon is 92% water.
  • Watermelon's official name is Citrullus Lanatus of the botanical family Curcurbitaceae. It is cousins to cucumbers, pumpkins and squash.
  • By weight, watermelon is the most-consumed melon in the U.S., followed by cantaloupe and honeydew.
  • Early explorers used watermelons as canteens.
  • The first cookbook published in the U.S. in 1776 contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.
  • Updated! According to Guinness World Records, the world's heaviest watermelon was grown by Lloyd Bright of Arkadelphia, Arkansas in 2005, weighing in at 268.8 lbs (121.93 kg). Lloyd grew and weighed in for the Annual Hope, Arkansas Big Watermelon Contest on September 3, 2005.
  • The United States currently ranks 5th in worldwide production of watermelon. Forty-four states grow watermelons with Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona consistently leading the country in production.

  • Email us at info@watermelon.org for more fun facts!



Wash Those Watermelons
Did you know that you should wash those watermelons? According to the FDA, you should wash all fruits and vegetables in clean, running water before eating them. This is true for all fruits and veggies, rinds or not! You should also use clean knives and cutting surfaces, and make sure you have washed your hands prior to preparing the watermelon for eating. 


Types and Varieties of Watermelon
About 200-300 varieties are grown in the U.S. and Mexico, although there are about 50 varieties that are very popular. You can do an online search or contact a seed company to find out more about common and historic watermelon varieties. The modern watermelon lover sees his or her watermelon options as these five types: Seeded, Seedless, Mini, Yellow and Orange.


Why is My Watermelon Brokenhearted?
Don't worry! It was nothing you did. Mother Nature just likes to remind us of who's really in charge of farming.

Farmers and scientists have speculated about the causes of Hollow Heart for as long as watermelons have been grown in America. There is general consensus that watermelons can crack internally when there is a combination of weather events during the growing season that includes cold snaps, then heat waves and finally too much rain. The good news is that while your watermelon maybe cracked inside, it's still perfectly good to eat. In fact, kids who grow up around watermelons know from experience that the cracked pieces are actually sweeter since the sugars are more concentrated along the cracks. Watermelons with Hollow Heart are like kids that are growing too fast for their clothes: you wish they'd slow down, but you still love them. Learn More...



History of Watermelon
Watermelon is thought to have originated in the Kalahari Desert of Africa. The first recorded watermelon harvest occurred nearly 5,000 years ago in Egypt and is depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics on walls of their ancient buildings. Watermelons were often placed in the burial tombs of kings to nourish them in the afterlife.

From there, watermelons spread throughout countries along the Mediterranean Sea by way of merchant ships. By the 10th century, watermelon found its way to China, which is now the world's number one producer of watermelons.

The 13th century found watermelon spread through the rest of Europe via the Moors.

Southern food historian, John Egerton, believes watermelon made its way to the United States with African slaves as he states in his book, "Southern Food."



 
 
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