Watermelons Bursting and Splitting

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Your Watermelons are growing well all through spring and into the dog days of summer when suddenly kapow, they start to pop open, split and crack... wtf ?

Varieties Prone to Bursting

Some thin skinned watermelon varieties are prone to splitting and cracking. They are sometimes dubbed 'exploding melons' for this very reason. Thin rind varieties such as 'Ice-box' 'Gold Baby, 'New Queen,' and 'Sugar Baby' are infamous for this and tend to split more often on the vine. But even Thick Rind varieties can at times burst or split.

Moisture Surges

If the watermelon police performed an autopsy on your melons they might find that they died due to capricious and irregular watering caused by either you the gardener, or by Mother Nature herself.


Split Carcked Watermelons

In the most common scenario your watermelons are receiving less water than they should, perhaps even borderline drought, and then the heavens open up, or you come back from vacation and smother them in the nectar of life - water.


The excessive and sudden accumulation of water is readily absorbed by the thirsty melons and they actually engorge themselves to the point where the rind can not keep up and it basically pops from internal pressure.

I recall as a young teen working at a farm stand where we had hundreds of watermelons. The melons were stacked like cannonballs. When more melons came in from the fields we stacked them on top to replace those that sold off. The melons on the bottom lay there soaking in all the rain that puddled around them. In mid summer, a few days after a heavy rain the melons on the bottom started exploding, not popping, but exploding and spitting their seeds out for many yards.

An old woman standing about 10 to 15 feet from one of the stacks when this happened got blasted with red melon pulp and seeds - combined with the sound effect it looked like she got blasted with a shotgun. The image of this poor woman is forever embedded in my mind. Needless to say she got a free watermelon from the top of the stack this time as well as some tomatoes and green beans :>

When melons are deprived of moisture they develop a tighter and harder skin which prevents moisture loss. However, once a sudden moisture surge comes such as a minor deluge or over watering, the skin tries to expand but can't always keep up. As a result, the watermelon bursts.



Heat Stress

A less common, but just as plausible reason for watermelons splitting and popping is excessive heat. If your melons pop or crack and they have not been exposed to an erratic water supply, chances are it is during a hot spell.

Water expands under high temperatures, pressure within the watermelon can accumulate when it gets too hot causing the melons to burst. Organic Mulch and temporary shading can help alleviate this issue during extreme hot weather.



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