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How and When to Pick Watermelon in Australia for a Juicy Harvest

The trick with growing watermelons is knowing when the fruits are ready to harvest. They have to be picked at just the right time because they won’t ripen once they’re removed from the vine.

Watermelons are relatively easy to grow if you have the space and plant them in the right spot. These delicious summer fruits grow on a vine, similar to pumpkins. 

They will grow in most climates around the country but prefer tropical, sub-tropical and warm temperate regions. They do need full sun to produce their lovely large fruits.

The trick with growing watermelons is knowing when the fruits are ready to harvest. They have to be picked at just the right time because they won’t ripen once they’re removed from the vine.

watermelon harvest | Fruit & Vegetables

Unlike pumpkins, watermelons won’t store well for any length of time, so you need to pick ripe fruits when you’re ready to eat them.

When are watermelons ready to pick?

There are a few telltale signs that you should look out for that will let you know when your watermelons are ripe and ready to be picked. 

watermelon harvest 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

One of the first things that you’ll notice is that the tendril that is near where the stem of the fruit attaches to the vine will become brown and withered. 

At this time, you should also notice a change in the colour of the skin of the fruit. It may start to appear a little duller and the contrast between the stripes will be less apparent.

watermelon harvest 2 | Fruit & Vegetables

You’ll also notice that the skin starts to yellow a little at the point where the fruit touches the ground. Plus, creases will start to develop in the skin of the fruit.

When fully ripe, the fruit should sound hollow when you tap the skin with your knuckles and a small crack will appear in the stem just above where it attaches to the fruit. The stem may also start to shrivel when the fruit is fully ripe.

How to harvest a ripe watermelon

When harvesting a ripe watermelon, make sure that you use a sharp pair of secateurs or a knife to cut the stem from the vine.

Never just pull the stem or the fruit from the vine because this could cause damage to both the vine and the stem.

If the stem cracks too much, it can allow disease to enter the fruit and make it inedible.

How do you store a watermelon that you’ve just harvested?

watermelons 1 | Fruit & Vegetables

Generally, a freshly harvested watermelon should last for a few days when stored at room temperature out of direct sunlight.

However, the melon will stay fresher for longer if you store it in the fridge. Once the melon is cut, it should be covered with cling wrap before placing it into the crisper section of the fridge.

Make sure that you use a clean piece of cling wrap every time you have to rewrap your cut watermelon.

If you’ve decided to cut your ripe melon into slices or smaller pieces, these should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

Can you freeze watermelon?

If your watermelon vine has given you more fruit than you can consume and you’ve given away as much as you can, you can actually freeze any excess fruit for around 3 to 6 months.

However, once the fruit has been frozen, you won’t be able to use it fresh or in a fruit salad because the freezing process will change the general structure of the fruit.

Instead, use your frozen watermelon to make smoothies or sorbets.

watermelon sorbet | Fruit & Vegetables

You can even eat frozen watermelon cubes. They make a refreshing treat on a hot summer’s day. And, your dog will love a couple of pieces too!

How to freeze watermelon

Cut your watermelon into evenly sized cubes and place these on a baking tray so that they’re not touching each other. You might want to line the tray with baking paper so that the frozen cubes will be easier to remove.

Put the tray into your freezer. It will probably take around 2 to 4 hours for the watermelon cubes to freeze. Remember that watermelon consists of more than 90% water, so allow plenty of time for the cubes to become frozen.

When the cubes are frozen, you can take them off the tray and pop them into either an airtight container or a freezer bag before putting them back in the freezer.

FAQ

Where do watermelons grow in Australia?

Watermelons are grown commercially in Australia in Western Australia, the Northern Territory, New South Wales and Queensland. In most of these regions, watermelons can be grown year-round. However, in cooler regions, they can only be successfully grown in summer.

How long does watermelon take to grow?

It usually takes around 80 to 90 days to grow a ripe watermelon from seed to fruit. So, if you live in a cooler region, you want to ensure that you plant your seeds in spring or very early summer so that the fruits have enough time to grow and mature.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.

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