Watermelon questions


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I am growing Bush Sugar Baby watermelons. Started just as a, "I wonder if I could..." As it turns out, I can! It's the harvesting part that has me lost.

Question 1: (First photo is 1 of 4 of my larger growing melons) Is determining ripeness really just a guessing game, with a few tips that may or may not be accurate? I've read to watch the leaf and the tendril closest to the growing watermelons- when theyve dried up and turned brown, the watermelon is ready. However, I've watched videos of people picking their watermelons, showing the dried up tendril... and their watermelon was still all white inside. Same with the tap method, the creamy yellow bottom...

Question 2: I've read that about 2 weeks prior to harvest to stop watering them so that the sugars inside dont get diluted, resulting in a less sweet watermelon.
It makes sense, I suppose, but I dont want my plants to die before harvesting. It's hot and humid here (PA) and they're planted at the top of a slope so it doesnt hold water well, it tends to drain down the hill.

Question 3: I have 5 watermelon plants in ground and two in pots (experimenting), all of which are growing up a cage. I'm not 100% on the size of the pots because I cant remember what i bought, haha, but I do remember being excited that I found "the right size." So I assume they're not too small, however the watermelons growing in the pots (2nd photo) seem to have stopped growing for the last few weeks.. but have not started discoloring, shriveling, nothing... just stopped. Could these still ripen and just stay small?

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I grew my first trellis melons this year. Crimson Sweet. I understand your questions and just wanted to offer my condolences.
 
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IMO there is no indicator of exactly when to pick a melon. I believe it is just a matter of experience. The theory of the brown leaf and tendril is more or less true, it's just the growth habits of melons are not all exactly the same. I guess the bottom of the melon being a yellowish color is the best indicator although the yellow color changes with different varieties. When I pick a melon I go first with the bottom. If it is in anyway a white color don't pic. Make sure the color is yellow or yellowish. The deeper the yellow the riper it is and it is better to have a slightly overripe melon than a slightly underripe melon. Usually a watermelon grower will have more than one watermelon. When he thinks the criteria of ripeness is correct he picks it. He will then know if he picked too soon or too late and can pick accordingly from this.
 

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