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Watermelon growing in a field.

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – During the summer heat, cutting open the perfectly ripe watermelon is a great way to cool down. Picking the perfect watermelon can be deceiving though. Many social media sites claim to have the fool-proof method of how to pick the juiciest, ripest one by their shape and color.

Joe Kemble, an Alabama Extension vegetable specialist, said people should understand many of these are just myths.

Male vs. Female

One myth says a way to choose the best watermelon is determining whether the fruit is male or female. Kemble wants to make clear that there are no male fruits. A fruit develops from the fertilization of ovules (part that develops into a seed) of a female flower. Watermelon plants produce separate male and female flowers. Pollen from the male flowers is conveyed, usually by honey bees, to the female flowers. After pollination, fertilization of each ovule occurs and the former female flower is now a developing fruit.

Size and Shape

Another popular myth is based on the fruit’s size and shape. However, this is not a guaranteed way to choose a melon. Size and shape can differ greatly in watermelons based on rainfall/irrigation, nutritional status, weather and pollination success. Poor or incomplete pollination can cause misshapen fruit to develop. The plant needs one pollen grain to fertilizer each ovule in a watermelon. It is the ovule that will develop into a seed after fertilization occurs. Each watermelon variety produces a range of sizes. These ranges can be rather wide depending on many of the factors listed above.

Sweetness

Contrary to what many people claim, size does not reflect flavor or sweetness. A large watermelon can be just as sweet as a small one.

More Information

Now that you know the truth behind watermelon development, you are ready to choose the best one when picking through the mounds of melons.

Fore more information on choosing watermelons, check out the news article Picking the Perfect Watermelon. For more information, visit Alabama Extension online or contact your county Extension office.

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