Locally grown watermelons are about to make their first appearance this season at Kentucky’s farmers’ markets. Although not in the same league as watermelon growers in many southern states, the Commonwealth produces quite a few melons. University of Kentucky Horticulturalist John Strang says it’s a delicacy that Kentuckians crave.
“We have the market for them and that’s the bottom line. Watermelons are a pretty popular crop in the summer, you know. Somebody will drive to a roadside market, where they might not drive too far for Brussels sprouts, you know,” said Strang.
Kentucky’s watermelon harvest could peak later than normal. Typically, melons show up at farmers’ markets in July. However, given current cool, wet conductions, Strang says many might not ripen until August. He adds they’re worth the wait.
“The advantage of growing them in Kentucky is a lot of times we get a little better quality or better tasting watermelons than shipped in. Typically watermelons that are shipped in are harvested at about ten percent sugar and that’s a watermelon, it looks good, it’s watermelon. But, you get that watermelon up around eleven and a half 12 percent sugar, you want to eat the whole watermelon,” added Strang.
Strang says Kentuckians cultivate about 800 acres of watermelons each year.