Scientific Name: Citrullus lanatus
Common Varieties: Seeded--Sangria, Fiesta, Calsweet. Seedless--Fandango, Super Cool, Nova, Laurel, Millionaire. Seedless Miniature--Precious Petite, Petite Perfection, Solitare, and Extasy
Seeded Varieties, or Diploid, are oblong and dark green with broken, light green stripes. The flesh is bright red with black seeds. Seeded varieties are not as popular as Seedless varieties, or Triploid. More common is the transplanting of these varieties, instead of direct seeding, because of low seed vigor. A watermelon plant seldom produces more than 2 to 3 harvestable fruit. Melons are unusually harvested by hand and shipped in sturdy cardboard boxes containing 1,100 to 1,200 lbs. Rind scarring reduces marketability but does not detract from fruit taste.
Growers consider soil and water conditions, fertility, and pest pressures to decide economically viable growing practices.
Watermelons grow best in sandy loam or silt loam soils. They are deeply rooted, yet required precise irrigation management to avoid prolonged saturation of the root zone, which would promote root rot pathogens. Watermelon has moderate nutrient requirements compared with other vegetable crops, and due to its deep rooting, it is efficient in extracting nutrients from the soil. One to two bee colonies per acre should be placed in the field when male flowers begin to appear. Poor pollination often causes misshapen fruit. Whiteflies, cutworms, beet armyworms, aphids, spider mites, darkling ground beetles, leafhoppers, cabbage loopers, and leafminers are the most serious insect pests of watermelon. Common diseases include powdery mildew and fusarium wilt.
Bearing Acreage: 1,800
Yield Per Acre: 46.53 Tons / Acre
Total Tons: 83,500 Tons
Gross Total Value: $35,937,000
Data Source: San Joaquin County Crop Report, 2020. https://www.sjgov.org/WorkArea//DownloadAsset.aspx?id=33165
Added Value: Essential Food Production, Essential Worker Employment, Education, Research
Watermelon Salad with Radishes and MInt
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch red radishes, cut into ⅛-inch slices
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ red onion, cut into thin slivers
4½ pounds watermelon (1/4 of a large melon), rind removed, flesh cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons torn mint leaves
Dissolve a spoonful of salt in a large bowl of ice and water. Add the radishes and let sit for a few minutes to crisp.
Whisk the vinegar, oil, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Drain the radishes and add to the bowl, along with the onion and watermelon.
Gently toss with your hands to coat evenly.
Spread on a serving platter, grind pepper all over, and top with the mint.