Watermelons are a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, which includes squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, muskmelons, and gourds. Individual plants produce both male and female flowers, and fruit size varies from 5 to 30 pounds, depending on variety. However, seedless varieties will require pollinators. Fruit shape and appearance are quite varied, ranging from round to cylindrical and a single color to various striped patterns on the fruit surface.
The culture of watermelons goes back to prehistoric times. The watermelon was cultivated in ancient Egypt .When he found great tracts of watermelon (called kengwe) growing wild in the Kalahari Desert and semi-tropical regions of Africa. Watermelons are currently grown on all continents throughout the warm regions of the globe. Most of the watermelons harvested in the United States are sold as fresh produce.
Fresh-market watermelons are produced in Pennsylvania from the end of July to the end of September. Fresh-market watermelons usually are sold loose in bulk containers or in 800-pound cardboard bins.
Retail marketing options include roadside stands (either your own or another grower’s) and pick-your-own operations, which provide opportunities to receive higher-than -wholesale prices for your watermelons, but you may have some additional expenses for advertising, building and maintaining a facility, and providing service to your customers. With pick-your-own operations, you save on harvest costs, but you must be willing to accept some waste. Farmer’s markets are another retail option, but you should contact the markets well in advance of the marketing season to be sure space is available and to find out what requirements you must follow.
Watermelons grow best on soils that hold water well and have good air and water infiltration rates. Soil should have a pH of 5.8–6.6. Watermelons are sensitive to cold temperatures, and even a mild frost can severely injure...