It’s right before dawn, and the soil is slightly damp. The sun is beginning to peek its nose over the horizon as you approach the watermelon patch. Just around eighty five days ago you planted seeds in the ground, unsure as to whether they’d grow into robust or stunted melons. But now, the fruits of your labor (and the literal fruits) have emerged from the ground.
Picking the perfect watermelon is no easy task, and growing one can be just as challenging. The VP of Sales and Operations for Frey Farms, John Frey shares his tips. “Temperature, soil, water and climate are all essential elements for growing your crop but could be deadly as well. Ideal temperatures ripen watermelons for superb flavor but too much heat will sunburn the melons. You need healthy soil that drains well to keep excess water off the fruit. Too much water will lower sugar in the fruit and spoil the crop. Not enough water can stress the plant and reduce your yield. Warm climates are ideal for growing watermelons. At Frey Farms, we open the watermelon season with some of the earliest melons from the southern tip of Florida, and then follow the prime growing seasons through Florida, Georgia, Missouri and Indiana. At the end of the day, farmers throughout the world pray to Mother Nature as she holds the key to a successful season." John Frey, Frey Farms
According to our friends at the National Watermelon Board, the United States currently ranks 6th in worldwide production of watermelon, with Florida, Texas, California, Georgia and Indiana consistently in the lead.
Though it may seem like watermelons are high-maintenance, the rewards and health benefits a watermelon provides are truly wonderful. Watermelons contain high levels of vitamins A, B6 and C. A two-cup serving of watermelon is a source of potassium, a mineral necessary for water balance and found inside of every cell. Watermelon is 92% water, making it the single most hydrating food on the entire planet. Lycopene is a prevalent carotene in watermelon that acts as an antioxidant and potentially reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer. With 15 to 20 milligrams for every two-cup serving, watermelon has been recognized as the lycopene leader.
Now comes the art of choosing the perfect watermelon. The fruit does not sweeten after it has been picked, so listening to the melon will serve you well. How do you listen and what are you listening for? Open your hand, thump the watermelon a few times, and listen closely. You’re simply listening for two sounds – a deep, flat sound or a nice, pitched ring. A deep, flat sound typically means it’s over-ripe. You want to hear a nice, sharp ring (but not too high pitched). If the pitch is too high this can mean the melon is immature.
Remember, if you don’t have time to pick your own watermelon, grab a bottle of Tsamma Watermelon Juice and get the same nutritional benefits – fresh off the farm! Every bottle of Tsamma Juice is made with over 1-1/2 lbs of Frey Farms fresh, seeded watermelons. For Tsamma, we not only grow a special watermelon variety, we hand pick each melon with a very high level of care and detail. When cutting the melon for juice, it is inspected for internal quality as well to ensure consistent flavor, taste, color and goodness in every bottle.
And there you have it – a behind the vines look at growing watermelons and choosing the perfect watermelon. From our family to yours, we hope you’re having a wonderful summer.