(KXAN) — Shoppers buying Texas-grown watermelons may notice a dip in quality this year. According to Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service experts, frequent rainfall as the fruit grew on the vine led to lower brix measurements compared to recent years. Brix measures sugar in fruit.
Despite that, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find Texas-grown watermelons. The fruit is growing on more acres in South Texas.
Last year, dry conditions meant fewer watermelons available, but they had very high brix scores. The rains this year also meant some growers are dealing with disease like downy mold and a fungus called fusarium. Those things can also lower the quality of the fruit.
“Yields are better than last year, but quality is down, and I think if you asked growers, they’d say it’s average across the board,” Juan Anciso, Ph.D., AgriLife Extension horticulturist said. “Harvest is wrapping up in the [Rio Grande] Valley, and there are more watermelons making it to the market.”
Much of the crop is still on the vine and growing and should be ready for July 4. Sales typically peak for Texas growers by that holiday.
A&M experts have some tips for finding the most flavorful watermelon. Look for a “field spot” or yellow belly. On a ripe watermelon, it should be a large, butter-like yellow patch on the side. That indicates the amount of time the melon spent ripening on the vine.
Another suggestion includes knocking on the fruit. A deeper sound means it’s ripe. A dull or hollow sound can mean it’s spoiling. The experts also recommend people avoid a shiny melon. That can indicate the insides are under ripe, so a duller finish is more likely to be tastier.
Luling will host it’s annual Watermelon Thump starting June 22. The multi-day event features live music, carnival rides, booths and of course, watermelon eating and seed-spitting competitions.