The Right Time To Pick A Cantaloupe - How And When To Pick Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe Plant
(Image credit: bncc369)

Knowing the right time to pick a cantaloupe can mean the difference between a good crop and a bad one. So you want to pick some cantaloupe but you're not quite sure how or when to go about it. If you harvest too soon, you'll be left with a hard, tasteless, or bitter melon, as the sugars haven't had sufficient time to develop and fully sweeten. And once they're picked, they won't continue to ripen. However, if you harvest your cantaloupe too late, you'll be stuck with fruit that is soft, watery, and mushy.

When Can I Harvest Cantaloupe?

Knowing when to pick cantaloupe is not as difficult as one might think. In fact, most cantaloupes are ready to be picked once they're fully ripened, changing from green to a tan or yellowish-gray color between the netting. A ripe melon will also exhibit a sweet and pleasant aroma. One way to tell if a melon is overripe is by looking at the rind, which will appear quite yellow and soft. So then, "When can I harvest cantaloupe?" you ask. Typically, cantaloupes should be ready for harvesting anywhere from 70-100 days after planting. In addition, a ripe cantaloupe will not require tugging or pulling in order to harvest it from the vine. Instead, it will easily slip from the vine with little help. There may also be a crack near the point of attachment and the stem will become brown.

How to Pick Cantaloupe

Once your cantaloupe is ready to be harvested from the vine, it helps to know how to pick it. If it's ripe enough, the melon should separate easily from the vine with a light touch. However, on occasion, you may come across one that is stubborn. In this case, the melon should not be pulled but carefully cut from the vine. Pulling may result in damage to the melon, which can lead to disease and poor quality fruit. Harvesting your cantaloupes is a rather easy task once you know when and how to do it correctly.

Nikki Tilley
Senior Editor

Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.