watermelons

clinchbilly(6)January 29, 2014

Going to try growing watermelons to sale at the farmers market, wandering what kinds sell best and wheres the best place to buy seeds?

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little_minnie(zone 4a)

Honestly, people ask for seedless all the time. I don't grow them; I grow heirlooms. I let them try the heirlooms and they don't mind putting up with seeds. I do recommend smaller varieties, at least for the sake of your back. The best tasting/growing I have found is Orangeglo.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 3:23PM
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randy41_1

at my market small watermelons sell best. some of my crimson sweets were a bit big last year and didn't sell. the sugar babies were a good size as were the peace yellow watermelons. if they are good free samples will make them sell.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 4:22PM
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cole_robbie(6)

Sangria is my grandparents' favorite; they also grow Crimson Sweet and Sugar Baby.

If you offer samples, check into your health department rules. They are different in each state, and some of them make offering samples very difficult.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 4:48PM
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myfamilysfarm

I vote for Sangria and Sugar Baby. Both are usually smaller, and thus easier to transport.

I can have samples if I have them in individual containers covered at all times. Other places are much more strict.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 5:45PM
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randy41_1

i just cut up a watermelon on a paper plate on the tailgate and then put it out there. some people try to make a meal out of it and for them you need a long stick.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 6:34PM
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myfamilysfarm

randy, we got in trouble for doing that last year.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 6:42PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

I agree with the smaller melons. For one, they are easier to handle and the plants produce more. There are 5 growers at my two markets who grow lots of big Crimson Sweets, 3 at one and 2 at another. They attract bigger families who will eat a 30-40 pound melon. My customers are singles and older couples. I usually don't have a problem selling them.

I really like Starshine, Sunshine, New Orchid and Sweet Favorite from Johnnys. I trialed Yellow Doll again and wasn't as happy with it as Sunshine. I also would like to have some seedless, I tried last year to grow them. Read every piece of information about how to start them, had everything perfect, temperature, moisture and didn't get a single seed to germinate out of 75 to 100. Not sure why. If anyone has a good way to start them, please let me know.

Jay

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 10:22PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

My favorite is "little baby flower". Kind of a silly name but a great, small (4-6 lb) watermelon which is easy to pick and the customers love. I also grow "starlight" another small one (8-10 lb). Both are from Johnny's. This year i'm also going to try a 5-7 lb. oval called "Dark Belle". I've given up with the larger ones, I can't get a decent price and everyone complains they're too big.

Jay, did you only have germination problems with triploids? If so, i'm not sure why they should be different from diploids.....

-Mark

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 1:24AM
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randy41_1

i'm trying little baby flower this year.
i gave up on growing seedless because of the germination issues but i have some seed left over that i will try again.i think the directions call for minimal watering until the seeds sprout. i have trouble passing up a dry looking tray of ungerminated seed without spritzing. self control this year.
marla-i'm pretty sure the market manager had a sample and didn't say anything about how it was displayed. some things they are very strict about (where you park for one) and others (like food safety) they don't seem to care.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 5:51AM
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myfamilysfarm

Ours was out when the board of health guy walked around. We took them done until he left, and then left them visible and the customers would ask for a sample. We don't have a market master at this market.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 10:58AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Triploids are harder to germinate. I have always had issues with them. I still have 50-75 more seeds, so I will try again.

I have grown Little Baby Flower too. It is very productive, but it was too small. I also had a problem with them cooking before they were ripe. The year I grew them it was super hot all summer, probably should give them another chance.

Mark: Dark Belle, where did you get the seed? I am looking for a dark rind sugar baby type to try this year.

Jay

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 11:02AM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Dark Belle is in the Osborne catalogue, but i'm not sure it fills your niche for a dark rind melon. From the photo it seems to have normal coloring but oblong shape. You know how photos can be misleading....
The local health food store was buying beautiful watermelons from a large organic grower in the state. They were 4lbs and very oblong, like 9x5. A super interesting looking melon that i'm sure customers at the market would go for. The labeled the melons as (great timing) "Super Bowl" watermelons. Anyone heard of them?
I haven't been able to find hide nor hare of them online so i'm hoping Dark Belle might be close.

As far as growing triploids, i've never bothered. The extra space needed for pollinators has deterred me and customers at the market seem fine with seeded ones (hybrids produce far fewer seeds than op's). Some actually think seedless must be GMO and I really don't want to have another educational point to make every market......

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 12:35PM
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cole_robbie(6)

If I grew seedless, I would transplant them so I could have control over germination. Most of my last crop was transplanted. They do fine as long as they don't stay in the container very long. I use a heated box in the greenhouse to start seeds. At 95 degrees, anything sprouts if you keep it wet.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 1:14PM
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randy41_1

i copied this from a univ of nebraska pubication. this is about germinating seedless watermelon.....

Use a light potting mix for good aeration.
Do not overwater.
Both practices underscore the need to maintain good aeration around the germinating seed. Watermelons need more oxygen during germination than many other seeds. Transplant producers have found seedless watermelons to be even more sensitive to soil saturation than regular watermelon seeds.
If only a few seeds are involved, nick the rounded end of the thicker triploid seed (end away from the embryo) to increase the rate of water uptake and speed seed germination.
Seedless watermelon should be germinated at 85ðF until at least 30 to 40 percent of the seedlings have emerged. Maintain soil temperatures at 70ðF to 80ðF after germination. Watermelons are warm-season plants of tropical origin Seed germination and plant growth are best at warmer temperatures.
Transplants should be three to four weeks old and have two to three true leaves when planted in the field. Older transplants suffer significant transplant shock.

when i did have success with seedless i grew the variety vanessa which is personal size, productive, and extremely sweet. this product flies off the stand. the seed i have now is solitaire. can't find vanessa.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 3:02PM
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clinchbilly(6)

Thanks for the help.
what is the best type of large muskmelon or catalope?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 12:14PM
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clinchbilly(6)

Thanks for the help.
what is the best type of large muskmelon or catalope?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 12:17PM
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clinchbilly(6)

Thanks for the help.
what is the best type of large muskmelon or catalope?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 1:07PM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Once again, I go small on this so not much help. We have grown Wrangler and Tasty Bites from Johnnys. Tasty Bites are 1 to 2 pounds and sell themselves. Very easy to harvest, slip from the vine, and if you have two people fast to harvest. One is in the patch tossing them out, the other is catching them and putting them in tubs or boxes.

Jay

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 2:52PM
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cole_robbie(6)

My grandparents last grew Earlisweet. The description says it is a 2-3 pound melon, but we had several that were much larger.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 4:07PM
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randy41_1

i grew athena and ambrosia last year in a hoop house. the aphids loved them.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 4:14PM
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myfamilysfarm

The best tasting small ones have Sugar in their names. Personal sized and wonderful tasting.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 9:03PM
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boulderbelt(5/6)

Golden Gopher is the best muskmelon I have ever grown/eaten

We really like peace, a yellow watermelon I believe we get it through Fedco Seeds

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 3:59AM
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clinchbilly(6)

Thanks for the help
Where the best place to buy bulk melon seeds? Like to grow a few really large melons too, any suggestion?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 1:25PM
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clinchbilly(6)

Has anyone tired blacktail mnt watermelons, are the close to sugar baby?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 8:35PM
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cole_robbie(6)

My grandma orders our melon seed from Rupp.

I always check Morgan County Seed Co before I order from anywhere else. They have less variety, but are typically the lowest priced.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 4:40PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

watermelon, black seeded ice cream
watermelon, BTM X Crimson Sweet
watermelon, Crimsonx BTM (Blacktail Mt.)
watermelon, early Canada
watermelon, golden midget
watermelon, moon&stars yellow
watermelon, orange tender
watermelon, Orangeglo
watermelon, strawberry
watermelon, sugar baby

This is my watermelon list for the season. I liked all the ones from last year and added a few more this year. I actually don't think Blacktail Mountain is that great. It doesn't come more than 5 days earlier than other watermelons.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 11:07PM
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lartomato(5 northern AZ 7000 feet)

I don't think I'm in the right place but can someone direct to the question fourm. I like to grow Crimson Sweet watermelons but the flesh color comes out lite pinkish not red. It taste very sweet - just the color

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 1:34PM
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joeyvegies

While we're on the melons, has anyone had any luck with the Charentais style melons? I grew some that were absolutely delicious this year but barely any were marketable - they split, got sunburnt and got mould problems.

Other rockmelons did great, Hales Best, Planters Jumbo and Amish were all very productive, sweet and easy to harvest. Amish didnt last well though.

For watermelons I grew Sugarbaby which were pretty popular. Hard to judge ripeness on some. Also had some large Warpaint watermelons for a store I sell to. They don't mind what size they are as they cut for sale. These had much better true watermelon flavour. Stars and Moon was just for me, for looks.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 4:43AM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

I've grown various Charentais melons over the years and they are hands down the best flavored canteloupe of them all. I really suggest the F1 hybrids, the open pollinated varieties are great for gardeners but are unreliable for selling.
"Savor" is my standby, it's a true Charentais with thin, smooth blue/grey rind, and no netting. It produces a little later than most muskmelons and needs plenty of heat in Sept. to finish up well. It doesn't slip, so it needs to be cut from the stem and the only way to know the right time is by experience. Too early and it's firm and not as sweet as can be, too late and it's cracked, soft inside and overly sweet (the kind you get drunk on).

The other Charentais I find reliable is called "French Orange". It's an F1 that's got a parent with some netting to help it store a little better, but it doesn't have the classic, smooth, blue appearance (the french would pou-pou it). While not quite as flavorful as "Savor", it matures earlier and still has fantastic sugar levels and that classic Charentais taste. It does slip from the vine, making it a lot easier to harvest at the pefect time.

Once customers catch on, I sell both of these melons as fast as they hit the table and due to their size, I get a higher price than the large musks.
Hope this helps.
-Mark

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 11:55AM
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joeyvegies

Thanks Mark,
I will look into importing some of those F1s for next season (just finishing melon season here in Australia) because I agree, the Charentais flavour is impossible to give up once you've tasted it. The few that did make it to customers here were very highly praised.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 8:51PM
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brookw_gw

Melons are a big part of our business, so I always dedicate at least an acre for them. For cantaloupes, this year's inventory includes Ambrosia*, Athena, Gold Dubloon, Halona, Goddess, Maverick, and Gold Strike.

Watermelons are Crimson Sweet, Sangria*, Jubilee, Plantation Pride, Diablo, Crispy Critter, Starbrite, Ali Baba, Shiny Boy, Lemon Krush*, Orangeglo*, New Queen, Sugar Baby, Smile, Yellow Doll*, Pony Yellow, Yellow Petite, and Baby Doll.

canary, Lambkin, green and orange honeydew, sapo miel*, dove, tweety, jill, honeycomb honeydew, and honeybrew.

I experiment every year and add at least 6 new varieties. Favorites have the *. Having the unusual varieties sets us apart from other vendors. I add more orange and yellow melons every year. While I love them, the specialty melons haven't caught on nearly as well. Still, many are great keepers that I enjoy late into the year. I am ashamed that I have yet to try the charantais, but I think I raise enough as it is.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2014 at 2:03PM
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joeyvegies

As someone who grows so many do you have any tips? I was pretty happy with how mine performed this year but always looking to learn more. And is crunching vines inevitable as you harvest?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 6:53AM
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myfamilysfarm

Joey, the big time growers here will go out and move the runners into the rows several times before the fruit get too heavy. That helps alot, it's alot of work, but helps.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 10:04AM
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brookw_gw

I do like to give my melons plenty of room, and I do move the vines a lot. Larger melons require larger vines, but I really don't grow huge melons. Smaller melons can sell for close to what the big ones do, and they produce far more. The best thing to learn is to determine when melons are at their peak of ripeness. I also like to choose varieties that ripen at different times to keep a steady supply and I've stopped planting varieties that take forever to ripen. You should also know that while melons will continue to produce well into fall, the quality starts to decline with cool weather. I adjust my price accordingly. Melons love heat.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 11:03AM
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jrslick (North Central Kansas, Zone 5B)

Also, don't forget to succession plant melons. what works for us is we plant the first planting, in black plastic mulch, by May 15 to 25 (usually). Then the second planting 3 weeks later, June 10-15 and finally 2 weeks later, June 24-29, for the last planing. This way we have a steady supply of melons all season long. For me, all melons have to be planted my July 4th or they just don't produce. The last two plantings are close together, but the days start to get shorter as the season goes on.

This is what works for us.

Jay

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 12:20PM
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joeyvegies

Thanks folks that's interesting info. I did plant my crop in 3 successions (bout 2 weeks between each) this year but somehow still ended up with most of them producing at the same time and hence having a big glut. But most of them found homes so that's ok.

Rockmelons were much better sellers for me than watermelon which surprised me but is ok because I think possibly get more melons per row foot with them. Also less headaches about figuring out what is ripe!

And I wasn't sure if they were starting to taste not as good toward the end of the season or if I am just getting sick of them, so that's good info thanks Brook.

Next year I will try moving the vines more, and also space my successions further apart I think. I'm going to need a bigger melon patch I can see...

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 7:29PM
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