MANHATTAN—Although thumps are the traditional way of determining ripeness of melons, a more scientific way is available.
Ward Upham, a horticulture expert at Kansas State University said ripe watermelons normally develop a yellow color when ripe on the part that sits on the ground. According to Upham, the depth of the yellow varies depending on the type of melon.
"Most striped melons should have a bright, buttery yellow color, and dark green watermelons a deep yellow color. Light green melons develop a light yellow coloration," Upman said in a release. "As a general rule, if the ground spot has a cream-like, off-white color, the watermelon is not ripe."
A ripe watermelon will usually develop a roughness on its surface near the base of the fruit. A hot, dry summer helps ripen the fruit.
When watermelons are on the vine, they have a tendril that turns brown and dies as the melon ripens. This stem will remain attached when the melon is picked.
Melons are divided into watermelons and muskmelons, which include honeydews, cantaloupes and other melons. Ripened cantaloupes fall off the vine. If a cantaloupe has a stem, it was picked too soon.
"Ripe honeydew melons become soft on the flower end of the fruit, which is the end opposite where the stem attaches," Upman said. "Also, honeydews should change to a light or yellowish color when ripe, but this varies with variety."
According to Patti Griffith, the University Extension Educator for the University of Wyoming, white honeydew melons can ripen on the counter.
According to Cornell University experts, Muskmelons need well-drained, soil, with a pH that ranges from 6.5 to 7.5. If the growing season is too short, experts at Cornell recommend using black plastic mulch to warm the soil.