Did you know that watermelons are the largest annual horticulture crop in Texas? I had no idea! Monday, August 3, is National Watermelon Day, and as I was looking around for places to grab a good watermelon, I had no idea that their fruit plays such a big role in Texas agriculture. It's no surprise that we celebrate this holiday in the first part of August, as July and August are the prime melon growing months in a large part of the state. Come to find out, watermelon farmers start their harvest here in Texas as early as April down in the lower Rio Grande Valley. If my math is correct, Texas farmers plant around 41,990 acres of melon every year.

With all that watermelon, it might be hard to find out which ones are going to be the best. So how do you know what to look for when you hit the grocery store or your local market? According to the website "TheKitchn.com", there are 3 things you want to look for:

  1. Does the watermelon feel heavier than you think it should be?
  2. Does it have a yellow or orange spot? Watermelons develop a yellow/orange patch where they rested on the ground. If the spot is a creamy yellow almost orange, then the melon is ready.
  3. How does it sound? Tap the underbelly of the watermelon and listen for a deep hallow sound. The deeper the sound, the more juice you will find inside. A dull sounding melon is either going to be under ripe or over ripe.

What if you really like a sweet watermelon? When it comes to the sweetness, shape matters. Experts say that an oval shape melon will be more watery, but a round, ball looking melon, will be sweeter than the rest. Also look for black marks. You might think this is a sign of a bad watermelon, but it turns out those marks can tell you a lot. Black or brown looking "webbing" on the melon is caused by scaring that happens when bees pollinate the plant. The more pollination, the sweeter the fruit. And if you see black, hard spots seeping out, that is sugar. Another sign you have a sweet melon.

Lastly, should you go seeded or with a seedless watermelon? It is really up to you and comes down to if you want to deal with the seeds or not. If you choose to go with a seedless watermelon, you may end up getting a sweeter and more flavorful melon. Seedless melons have more genes that work to not produce the seeds, and that transfers into flavor.

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