Wine Cellars

When to Harvest a Honeydew Melon?

Honeydew melons (Cucumis melo spp.) Belong to the family of winter melons, together with Persian, Crenshaw, casaba and charental melons. Although they need warm weather to thrive, winter melons are so named because they take longer to ripen than summer kinds like watermelon. Understanding when to crop a honeydew melon is an issue of calculating dates based on the days to maturity of the cultivar, together with such sensory clues as texture, size and colour.


Your seed packet provides an approximate date of when to begin to look for ripeness on your honeydew melons. Days will vary based on the cultivar — some take as long as 110 days — however most common cultivars ripen about 92 days following seed planting. Notice the date the seeds have been planted, and include the listed “days to maturity” to determine the approximate crop date. In Mediterranean areas, summer and winter melons could be started indoors in April or direct-seeded to the backyard in May.


Honeydew melons are ready for harvest when they reach approximately 3 pounds. Once the honeydew reaches its expected growing size, stop watering the melon harvest. Withholding water from your Eyes signals them to stop growing and begin ripening the fruit. It also improves flavor and keeps the fruits out of splitting.


When honeydew is growing, the skin facing the soil is light green. Ripeness is indicated when the melon’s skin turns yellowish. The whole ripe melon’s skin, in addition to changing color in some spots, will also become faded.


You will probably notice a smoothness of texture in young melons that’s unlike the honeydews which you buy from the store. That feeling will change as it becomes closer to the harvest date. Ripe honeydew melons have a rougher texture than unripe ones, that are still hard and slick to the touch. You will also discover that the underside of a ripe honeydew — the end opposite from the stem — has a yielding feel to it. Moreover, once the melons are fully ripe, you may notice the feature sticky quality to the skin which gives honeydew its name.


Another hint to a honeydew’s harvest-readiness is exactly what the vine resembles near the stem end. The tendrils clustered near the stem will get withered toward the end of the growing season. They will also change from green to brown.

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