Watermelon is the quintessential summer fruit. It is juicy and delicious, a requirement for every summer picnic and holiday party.
Growing your own watermelons provides a gardener with a sense of satisfaction as friends and family enjoy the year’s bounty.
However, if it is your first year growing them, you will wonder how long does watermelon last on the vine because you don’t want to let them sit too long and go bad!
How Long Does Watermelon Last?
If you can resist cutting into the delicious watermelon, you will wonder how long does watermelon last once harvested.
How Long Watermelon Lasts After Cutting
Typically you can store a watermelon in a refrigerator up to a week once cut. You should wrap it in foil or place the cut melon in an airtight container.
How Long Watermelon Lasts Before Cutting
If you haven’t cut into the watermelon yet, you can leave it on your countertop. They will last two to three weeks before going bad, so long as it is kept in a cool place. Some people opt to keep their melons in their basement to prolong its life.
The life of a watermelon depends on when it was picked.
How Long Watermelon Last on the Vine Before Picking
Also, watermelons won’t stay good forever if you leave it on the vine. There is a window of time that a ripe fruit remains the same before it becomes overripe and dies.
You want to pick it within days of reaching its peak. If you leave the watermelon on the vine longer than two weeks, your fruit will lose its sweetness and won’t be nearly as delicious.
If you are wondering how long does a watermelon last, the answer is simple. On the vine, you should pick within two weeks of ripening.
Once harvested, the time frame is between 7 days and three weeks depending on storage method and if you cut it first.
Continue reading for when and how to harvest a watermelon.
When to Pick a Watermelon
It is easy to determine when to harvest a simple.
Typically, melons that you plant are ready to be harvested 80 days or so after you planted it from seed. It is a good idea to mark the planting date on your calendar so you should look for ripeness around 75 days.
The length of time also varies based on the type of watermelon you grow. Each seed packet will give you an average length of time; always make sure to check this.
Variation of Growth Time
All breeds and types of plants take a certain amount of time to grow. Watermelons take, on average, 65 to 90 days to harvest. The above mentioned 80 days is a good average to remember.
As you might imagine, smaller watermelons will ripen before the larger ones, but this isn’t always the rule.
There are early watermelons that weigh two to four pounds that mature in 65 to 70 days, such as the “Early Midget” or “Little Baby Flower.” There are small melons, such as the “Sugar Baby” that mature in 75 to 80 days. If you select breeds like “King and Queen,” expect a minimum of 90 days to pass before harvest.
Signs that The Watermelon is Ready to Harvest
Watermelons show signs that they are ready to be picked.
Melons grow along green tendrils. As they near ripening, they begin to turn yellow.
Eventually, they will turn brown with a crumbly texture. The changing colors happens because the plant isn’t providing food to the watermelon. It is time to pick!
Have you ever noticed people at the grocery store repeatedly thumping on watermelons?
These people aren’t insane; there is a real reason they do this. If you pick up a watermelon and give it a good knock with your hand, it should make a hollow sound. Hearing the hollow sound is another sign that the watermelon is ready to be picked.
However, just because your watermelon doesn’t make that noise doesn’t mean it isn’t ripe.
The best sign is the tendrils combined with the dates of planting. If both of those are telling you the watermelon is ready, it is time to harvest.
You should also look at the color because a ripe melon develops a dull surface. You might notice the bottom is light green or yellow.
Tips for Properly Harvesting a Watermelon
Watermelons don’t get any sweeter once you pick them, so you need to pick the right time for harvesting. You want to make sure to do so correctly to avoid changing your delicious fruit.
Here are some simple tips.
A week before your watermelon ripens, you should water only as necessary to prevent the vines from wilting. This process causes the sugars to concentrate into the fruit. If you over-water an almost ripe melon, you reduce the sweetness of the fruit.
If harvesting by hand, gently twist the watermelon. A dead tendril typically breaks when force is applied. Don’t pull on it! You can rip out the roots or damage parts of the living tendrils.
You can use a sharp knife to cut the tendril as close to the fruit as possible.