Thursday, July 18, 2024
Happening Now

Watermelons Coming In To Combat The Heat

How about some cool watermelon to deal with the heat? Local farmers said you need to consider several things to ensure the best melon.

Belly Sugar Farms Co-Owner Myron Franklin said the first two things to look for are a creamy yellow spot and a non-shiny, dull exterior which both indicate proper growth. Franklin said the third thing to do when choosing a watermelon is the “thump test,” which is when you hit the melon and listen to the sound it makes to check the water content.

“It’ll have a nice kind of sharp sound to it when you whack it, you know?” Franklin said. “I usually like to slap it myself instead of knocking on it. But if that sound is a little more sharp as opposed to a dull sort of sound, like a hollow sound, if you get that kind of hollow sound, it often times means that the watermelon might be a little bit too ripe.”

Hernandez Farms Co-Owner Jennifer Hernandez said watermelons are well-suited to have a long growing season in Tennessee because of the state’s hot summer climate. Hernandez said the main issues watermelon farmers have to look out for are pests that eat the fruit and droughts that may dry them up.

“So for ours we haven’t really had too many issues other than like some droughts sometimes in the middle of the summer, but we combat that with watering,” Hernandez said. “We’re a small farm, so we do a lot of hand watering.”

Hernandez said people love a good piece of melon.

“I think it’s one of the first fruits besides berries to be field-grown that you can actually get, and it’s such a short season to get fresh watermelon that I think people just really love them and they want to get them as quick as possible into their homes, into their meals,” Hernandez said.

Franklin said a dull exterior indicates that the watermelon has gotten past its growing phase and started to develop sugar within it. Franklin said the yellow spot on the watermelon is called a field spot, which is where the watermelon sits on the ground while growing.

“That basically is a signature that its had enough time on the vine in the field absorbing water and maturing to ripeness,” Franklin said.

He said another way to check the water content of a watermelon is to compare it with another and see which one is heavier by size.

“If you’re comparing a few different ones that look similar, then the one that’s going to have that really nice heft to it and all the other conditions present, that’s the one you want to choose right there,” Franklin said.

Both farms are located in the Upper Cumberland, with Belly Sugar Farms in Fentress County and Hernandez Farms in Warren County.