Watermelons are among some of the best summer-time snacks, and for those who are real watermelon enthusiasts, growing your own maybe your next project! However, growing watermelons can be challenging as they have very specific needs in order to grow properly and have the best taste, texture and color.
Why is my home-grown watermelon white inside? Depending on exactly how your watermelon looks and feels, it is possible that you over-watered or over-fed your patch during its growth. Also keep in mind it takes watermelons 80 to 120 days to ripen and the red color is the last thing to develop. When picked too early, your watermelon will not have gotten its color or sweetness yet.
In this article we’ll take a look on how to identify when your watermelons are ripe, and other factors causing white flesh to occur in your melons.
What Causes White Watermelons?
The first you want to check is when facing a watermelon with white flesh is if you picked it too soon. Watermelons take a lot of time to fully ripen and even once they look ripe on the outside, they may still be white on the inside. Lycopene is the phytonutrient that is responsible for the pink to red color in several fruits.
Lycopene gives watermelon its color, as well as tomatoes, grapefruits, and guavas. The more lycopene in a fruit, the darker in color the fruit will appear. The only way to increase the lycopene content in your fruit is to let it ripen. The longer the fruit is allowed to ripen, the more of the phytonutrient lycopene you will be consuming in your fruit.
How Long do Watermelons Take to Ripen?
It can take a watermelon anywhere from 65 to 120 days to ripen; however, most commonly you will find your watermelons at peak ripeness between 70 and 90 days. This range depends on how much food, water, and sunlight is available to the watermelon during its growth period.
The ideal growing conditions are in a sunny location with well-draining soil. Watermelons like to have at least six to eight feet of space between them and the surrounding plants so be sure not to plant anything too closely to your fruit. The most ideal temperature range for growing is between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
If temperatures are consistently below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, you will wind up with bland watermelons. Higher temperatures will cause the plant to lose its flowers. If you do not have optimal growing conditions, it is possible your watermelons will be quite tasteless or are white on the inside.
In this case, it may not be that you didn’t wait long enough for your melons to ripen but rather that you are unable to give the seeds what they need to thrive in your environment. In this case, if you are still determined to grow, you should look into moving your fruits into a greenhouse where you’ll have more control over the climate.
Indicators for a Ripe Watermelon
Before picking your watermelon off of the vine there are a few important things to look for to avoid white watermelons. First, check the vine where the watermelon connects to the plant. The vine will get dried up and brown when the melon is ripe. If the vine is still very green and it is not easy to take the watermelon off of the vine, it is not yet ripe enough.
When you gently twist the watermelon from the vine it should come off with ease. Another great indicator is to check the belly spot of the watermelon where it rests on the ground. Before prime ripeness this spot is white, once the melon is ripe the spot will become a pale yellow color.
The rest of the rind of the watermelon should be firm, tough, and dull in color. Your melon may not be at its prime ripeness if you can dent it with your fingernail. Some common methods people use to determine ripeness don’t really work like thumping the melon and shaking it. These will not accurately tell you if your melon is ripe.
Other Causes for White-Fleshed Watermelons
There are a number of other causes for white-fleshed watermelons, the first being white heart disorder. This can develop in any watermelon during the final stage of its growth and is most commonly caused by over-watering or over-feeding the watermelon as its growing. Therefore, this can occur due to inadequate weather for growing.
White heart is characterized by white streaks appearing throughout the flesh of your watermelon. If your white melon does not have any streaks, you can rule this cause out. It may also be the seeds you bought to plant melons. There are multiple species of watermelon and some, including the preserving type, will come out as hard white watermelons.
These melons will look like your traditional melon on the outside, but you will find it much more difficult to cut through them. Because of how hard they are, they cannot be eaten raw and instead are often used for pickling or baking. However, if your watermelon comes out white but is tender, it may still be a different species but one that is edible raw.
There are species of watermelon that are bred to be white fleshed and can be eaten raw. These will not turn red regardless of how long they are grown. They are just as sweet as classic watermelons; however, they do not have the vitamin content of red watermelons due to the lack of phytonutrients.
If you are unsure of which seeds you planted and one of these cases sounds like how your watermelon turned out, it may just be that you bought a different variety of seeds. Be sure to check the packet when you are purchasing or ask a nursery employee.
There are many reasons why home-grown watermelons could end up with white flesh on the inside and depending on the taste and texture, you may be able to identify where you went wrong. Remember it is important to buy your seeds from a reliable nursery to avoid any cross-pollination of different watermelon types.
If you are growing watermelons, be sure the weather in your area is suitable for their needs and pay extra attention to when they are fully ripe enough to be picked off of their vine. For added success, try to pull up any weeds that surround your watermelon bed so that they are not competing for any water.
This will decrease the amount of water they will need and allow you to only water every seven to 10 days. Once you see that they are starting to ripen up, it can be helpful to lay some straw under each melon. This ensures that the melons are not resting on wet soil and being exposed to potentially rotting diseases. If your watermelon starts to rot from the bottom it will not be edible.