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With watermelons, you look at a couple of things. First of all, if it's sitting on the ground you can look at the ground spot, that spot where it sits on the ground and loses its color there. It will change from a greenish, or puce-type color to more of a creamy color. That's a sign that it's ripe.
Then the tendril, adjacent to where the vine attaches to the melon. There's a little curlicue there, and as it dries up, that's another sign that the melon is probably ripe. And finally there's the thump test. Now different sizes of melons sound different, but once you get familiar with the variety, you can tell pretty well by thumping. It should have sort of a hollow sound.
With cantaloupes, we also look at where the cantaloupe attaches to the vine. It'll start to break away. We call that slipping. The little belly button end, where the vine attaches, will crack loose about three-fourths of the way around, and that's about the time you can pick that cantaloupe. If you leave it on too long, it gets a little bit mealy, but it's not a magical, have-to-pick it this day type thing. You've got a week or so of leeway in there.