Watermelons ripe and ready for picking

Published 10:08 am Wednesday, July 29, 2015

This week marks the start of harvest season for Virginia watermelon growers.

Among them is Mike Grizzard, who grows more than 40,000 pounds of watermelons per acre on nearly 40 acres in Southampton County. He started planting in mid-May, putting in both seeded and seedless varieties.

“It was a couple weeks late, but looks like we’re going to have a good harvest,” he said.

Grizzard planted more melons each week for a month to extend his season through summer’s end.

“Ideally, we can continue to harvest until late August and early September,” he said, noting that planting season begins in early May and lasts through June.

A dry growing season is ideal for watermelons, and Grizzard said some of his crop was affected by heavy rains in June and July.

“So much rain can bring disease in the vines, and the wetter it is, the more diseases we have to deal with,” he said.”

Watermelons are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, as well as B6. When picking out a watermelon in the grocery store, look for three signs of a ripe fruit: a dull color, a firm surface and a yellow-colored field spot, where the melon rested on the soil.