Frequently Asked Watermelon Questions
  • How a Watermelon is Grown
  • How to pick a watermelon
  • Watermelon Fun Facts
 Is watermelon a fruit or vegetable?

For years people have debated whether watermelon is a fruit or a vegetable. Decide for yourself based on the facts below.

Watermelon is a Fruit
Like the pepper, tomato, and pumpkin, watermelon is a fruit, botanically. It is the fruit of a plant originally from a vine of southern Africa. Loosely considered a type of melon (although not in the genus Cucumis), watermelon has a smooth exterior rind and a juicy, sweet interior flesh.

Watermelon is a Vegetable
Watermelon is a member of the cucurbitaceae plant family of gourds (classified as Citrullus lantus), related to the cucumber, squash, and pumpkin (Maynard, 2001). It is planted from seeds or seedlings, harvested, and then cleared from the field like other vegetables.

According to Webster’s dictionary, a vegetable is anything made or obtained from plants (2004). Since watermelon is grown as a vegetable crop using vegetable production systems, watermelon is considered a vegetable (Wolford, 2004).

How Watermelon is used as a Fruit or a Vegetable
Watermelon is popularly used as a fruit, to be a sweet enhancer or fun accompaniment to everyday meals. Like other fruits, it is commonly cubed, balled, sliced and enjoyed fresh.

In places like China, the outer rind of the watermelon is used as a vegetable – stir-fried, stewed and often pickled. Pickled watermelon rind also is widespread in Russia, not to mention in the southern United States.

Scientifically Speaking
The scientific name of watermelon is Citrullus lanatus. It is a member of the cucurbitaceae family. Life; Embryophyta (plants); Angiospermae (flowering plants); Order: Cucurbitales (pumpkin and melon family); Family: Cucurbitaceae.

About 120 genera and 735 species of Cucurbitaceae exist worldwide, with 18 genera and 76 species native to southern Africa. Hubbard squash, butternut, pumpkin, sweet melons and cucumber are included in the “Cucurbit” family.

All a Matter of Perspective
Watermelon can be considered a fruit or a vegetable. No matter which way you slice it, watermelon is versatile, healthy and conveniently available year-round!

For the full overview and resources, download “Watermelon – Fruit or Vegetable?”

 Do I need to wash my watermelon?

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.

 How many servings are in one watermelon?

That all depends on the size of the watermelon, but on average a watermelon will yield 70% flesh and 30% rind. Did you know watermelons are actually 100% edible? Browse our recipes for flesh, juice and rind usage ideas.

 Why is my watermelon brokenhearted?

Sometimes growing conditions, including cold snaps and heat waves, will cause an internal cracking of the flesh, a condition known as Hollow Heart. Not to worry – these watermelons are perfectly safe to eat, and they often taste sweeter as sugars are more concentrated along the cracks.

 Where is my watermelon coming from?

Watermelon is grown in warm places, from Florida to Guatemala, making it available throughout the year. Use this handy chart to see watermelon peak production areas by month.

 I'm growing watermelon at home. When should I pick it?

The best resource for growing and picking your own watermelons is to consult a local growing expert at a university or extension office in your region. You can find an agency in your area by using the USDA’s website:

 Why is my seedless watermelon full of white seeds?

The white “seeds” in a seedless watermelon are actually empty seed coats where a seed did not fully mature. They are perfectly safe to eat.

 Can I eat all of my watermelon?

Yes, 100% of a watermelon is edible, including the seeds and the rind. Learn more about using the whole watermelon.

 How do I 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 long does watermelon take to grow?

A watermelon takes about 90 days to grow, from planting to harvesting.

 How is watermelon 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.

 How long will my watermelon last?

You have to consider how long it may have taken to get to your grocery store, as some watermelons may travel farther distances during the import season. Once cut from the vine, a watermelon has about 3-4 weeks of shelf life.

 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.

 What are some fun facts about watermelon?
  • 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.
  • Updated! The first cookbook published in the U.S. in 1796 was titled "American Cookery" and contained a recipe for watermelon rind pickles.
  • According to Guinness World Records, the world's heaviest watermelon was grown by Chris Kent of Sevierville, Tennessee in 2013, weighing in at 350.5 lbs. Want to more about how Chris grew a giant watermelon? Check out part one, part two and part three of an interview with Chris.
  • Updated! The United States currently ranks 6th in worldwide production of watermelon. Many states grow watermelons with Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Arizona consistently leading the country in production.
  • A watermelon was once thrown at the Greek Orator Demosthenes during a speech. Placing the watermelon upon his head, he thanked the thrower for providing him with a helmet to wear as he fought Philip of Macedonia.
  • The word "watermelon" first appeared in the English dictionary in 1615.
  • Food Historian John Martin Taylor says that early Greek settlers brought the method of pickling watermelon with them to Charleston, South Carolina.
 Do I have to refrigerate my watermelon?

Not when it is whole, but you want to keep the cold chain in place. If the watermelon was cold when you bought it, then continue to keep it cold. There has been research showing room temperature watermelon has higher nutrient levels, but it cannot have ever been refrigerated. Read more about that study here.

 What do the watermelon's stripes mean?

A watermelon’s stripes are indicators of variety, but with over 1,200 varieties grown in 96 countries worldwide, there are many, many variations. In fact, some watermelons don't even have stripes.

 What should I do if I can't find fresh watermelon in my grocery store?

Speak with the produce manager about your interest in watermelon and often they’ll order it. Also let them know how you plan to use it to help them determine if they should stock fresh cuts (cubes or spears), or quarters and halves. For many stores, it may only take up to 24 hours to get it in.

 Can I freeze watermelon?

At 92% water, certainly watermelon will freeze. We suggest cutting into cubes and then freezing on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper for a sweet and colorful addition to beverages like lemonade and iced tea. However, you cannot freeze watermelon to defrost at a later time. Watermelon will lose its taste, texture and color in the defrosting process.

 How long will my watermelon carving last? I want to make one in advance of a special event.

If you would like to create a watermelon carving for a future event, we recommend creating it as close to the event date as possible. Once you’ve cut into the rind, it will need to be refrigerated. You can help keep the edges from drying out by covering with a damp paper towel overnight. Depending on the size, weight and intricateness of your detail, the watermelon rind will start to lose its structure after a day.

 Is watermelon or seedless watermelon GMO?

No, no watermelon (seedless or other) is the product of genetic modification. Simple cross breeding is how seed breeders create new varieties with specific traits.

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Representing 1,500 watermelon growers, shippers and importers nationwide, our goal is to promote the nutritional, culinary and convenience benefits of watermelon.


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