When to Harvest Watermelon: How to Tell if a Watermelon Is Ripe

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Once picked, watermelons do not continue to ripen. For this reason, it’s so important to know both when to harvest watermelon and how to tell if a watermelon is ripe!

Thankfully, plants and fruits give us little clues so we can assess ripeness. Whether selecting melon at the store or growing your own and picking when the time is ripe, you can use these tricks to help ensure a satisfying pick.

Watermelon on wooden deck - Find out when to harvest watermelon with these tricks
Watermelon on wooden deck – Find out when to harvest watermelon with these tricks

Knowing when to harvest watermelon helps to ensure you can actually enjoy that juicy, delicious melon you grew.

You want to figure out when to pick a watermelon at peak ripeness so you can fully enjoy the best possible flavor.

Delicious half-sliced watermelon. Learning How to know when a watermelon is ripe gets easier.
Delicious half-sliced watermelon. Learning how to know when a watermelon is ripe gets easier.

When is a watermelon ripe?

Different types of watermelons reach peak ripeness at different times. When is watermelon ripe? It depends on the type! A sugar baby watermelon is ready to pick after about 75 to 80 days. Black diamond watermelons, on the other hand, take around 90 days to ripen for picking. You can most likely harvest Orangeglo watermelon 90 to 100 days after planting.

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Does watermelon keep ripening after it’s picked?

No, watermelons do not continue to ripen once removed from the vine. Be extra certain you know how to tell if a watermelon is ripe before attempting to harvest your melon. If you pick watermelon too early, you may end up sending it to the compost heap and waiting until next season for that homegrown deliciousness.

How do I know when to pick watermelon?

Knowing when to pick watermelon starts with knowing which watermelon you’re growing. Use a gardening journal or planner to keep track of planting dates so you can estimate harvest time. Also, use your senses to check the watermelon’s appearance, firmness, and sound. You can expect a ripe watermelon ready for picking to have a dry, brown stem at the attachment point to the fruit.

Ripe Black Diamond Watermelon from our 2021 Garden with a Dry Stem attachment point
Ripe Black Diamond Watermelon from our 2021 Garden. Note the dry stem attachment point.

When to Harvest Watermelon

Remember, it’s best to harvest watermelon at the peak of ripeness since they don’t keep ripening after picking.

Know how to pick a good watermelon with these helpful tips:

  • Check the Stem – When the attachment point of the stem to the watermelon itself becomes dry and brown, it’s a sign your watermelon is ripe and ready to pick.
  • Check the Belly! – The underside of a ripe and ready-to-pick watermelon should be creamy or yellow in color.
  • Dull Rind – Notice when the rind of your homegrown watermelon is less shiny and more on the dull side. This indicates it may be time to harvest.
  • Knock! – A ripe watermelon should sound hollow if you put your ear to it and knock. (And yes! I do this in the supermarket, too!)
  • Squeeze – Ripe watermelons feel solid and sturdy if you give a little squeeze. Do not pick a watermelon that is soft or has any squish to it. (If it’s in your garden, you may want to remove it and compost it.)
  • Streaking – Some varieties like Orangeglo watermelon will show streaking in the rind or belly when ready to pick. Get to know your type!
  • Planting Dates – Use a garden journal or calendar to mark down dates when planting watermelon seeds in the first place. Then you can estimate the week when your watermelons should be ready for harvest.
Ripe watermelons with yellow bellies and green rinds with white streaks
Ripe watermelons with yellow bellies and green rinds with white streaks

How to Tell If Watermelon Is Ripe

Learning how to tell if watermelon is ripe is a great skill to have for the home gardener. These tricks should help you harvest watermelon at the right time! ‘

Of course, like almost anything, it can still leave a little bit open to chance, but figuring out how to know when a watermelon is ripe gets easier in time.

I hope you can now plan your watermelon harvest accordingly! I wish you many delicious bites of summer in your future.

By the way, if you love watermelon, be sure to also check out my post on watermelon companion plants to make the most of your garden space!

Do you have any questions about when to harvest watermelon or any other tips to share? Please shout out in the comments if so. We love hearing from you!

Happy Gardening!

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