Melons like cucumbers require ample moisture for the growth and fruit setting. During the fruiting ripening stage, however, too much water will diminish the flavor of the melons.
Harvest when a small crack appears in the stem just above the melon indicating the melon is ripe. Feel, sound and smell are the other tests. Hold a melon up to your ear, if you can feel it squeeze and hear a slight mush instead of a crack it is ripe. Smell is something you learn with experience. It works.
The slipping of the stem from the melon with slight finger pressure is an excellent indicator of melon ripeness in the field. Those fruit that show a change of color from green or olive-grey to yellowish brown should be considered ready to harvest. For best quality, walk the patch daily.
Honeydew: Harvest when the stem end is slightly springy and the skin begins to take on a creamy yellow appearance.
Muskmelons: Harvest when firm, well netted, well formed and at “full slip”.
Full slip is when the melon separates from the stem with a slight pressure from the finger. Another indicator of ripening is the skin taking on a slightly yellow appearance under the netting.
Watermelon: Harvest when the white background color of the part of the melon that rest on the ground begins to turn creamish to slightly yellow. The drying of the stem tendril nearest the attachment point and green color tone are also indicators of ripeness.
Always cut a watermelon from the vine.