Melons can be tricky to guage when it's time to pick them. When you're looking at a cantaloupe, you should look at it's color and the stem end.

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When is Cantaloupe Ripe on the Vine?

Melons can be a little tricky to gauge when it’s time to pick them. Cantaloupe might be easier to tell, but watermelon just takes some experience to tell when it’s ready to pick from your garden.

When you’re looking at a cantaloupe, there are a couple of things to look for. The first thing you want to look for is the general color. It shouldn’t be green anymore – especially a dark green color. It should be a lighter green, turning yellow.

The most important thing to look for is to look at the stem end. This cantaloupe has already been picked. You can see where the stem was. There’s a nice concave dish. It’s curved in, and the stem came out cleanly. So, when you’re looking at a melon on your vine, and you’re wondering if it’s ready to pick, you’ll want to gently tug on the vine near the fruit. If it separates and pulls away cleanly, then it’s ready to pick.

But if it doesn’t come off easily, then let it continue to ripen until the stem comes off easily. That’s called slipping, and it’s the easiest way to tell when your cantaloupe is ready to pick. You can see that this cantaloupe is not ripe. We have a lot of dark green color in the seams and underneath the netting. And, when we look at the stem, it’s still firmly attached. There is no sign of it coming off yet.

This feature story prepared with Rebecca McMahon, Kansas State University Research and Extension Horticulture Agent, Sedgwick County. For more information, visit your local county extension office or visit our website at

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