Why do my watermelons burst open before ripening?

Location: North Port, Fl

Question: I have three different varieties of watermelon that are bursting open before they ripen. There is no rot or bug/critter damage. The melons have been on the vines now for about 6 weeks.

Answer: Fruit splitting is a symptom of inconsistent watering practices, coupled with hot weather. What happens is that the inside develops pressure (from over heating and/or becoming engorged with water) and the pressure breaks the skin. You can help maintain even moisture in the soil by laying a thick mulch around the plants to help slow evaporation. A straw mulch works best with melons because you can actually set the developing fruits on the straw. The mulch will also help moderate soil temperatures. If you don\'t have straw, try placing cardboard on the soil around the plants and under the melons. Hope you have better success with your melons!

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