September 28th, 2010 by The Watermelon Guy

I’ve noticed some discussion online lately about seedless watermelons and claims that they are “genetically modified,” which somehow makes them a black sheep in the world of produce. I’d like to take this time to set the record straight and restore dignity and honor to the great seedless watermelon by making this declaration:

Seedless watermelons are NOT genetically modified. They are hybrid watermelons that have been grown in the United States for more than 50 years and are safe and delicious in every way!


Allow me to explain. Actually, I’ll let the National Watermelon Promotion Board explain, because they do a good job of it on their website. Here’s what they have to say:

“A seedless watermelon is a sterile hybrid which is created by crossing male pollen for a watermelon, containing 22 chromosomes per cell, with a female watermelon flower with 44 chromosomes per cell. When this seeded fruit matures, the small, white seed coats inside contain 33 chromosomes, rendering it sterile and incapable of producing seeds. This is similar to the mule, produced by naturally crossing a horse with a donkey. This process does not involve genetic modification.”

So there you have it. Seedless watermelons are just regular watermelons, albeit a relatively younger relative of the traditional seeded watermelon. Despite being the new kid on the block, the seedless watermelon actually outsells its seeded peers by a significant margin. According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, only 16 percent of watermelon sold in grocery stores has seeds. In 2003, that number was 43 percent.

Oh sure, sometimes I miss those little black seeds, but it’s mainly for nostalgic reasons. Sort of the way I miss shopping for new clothes before the start of a new school year. Does it mean I want to spend an entire Saturday in the mall with my mother telling me I’ll “grow into” the five pairs of pants we just spent three hours trying on? Not a chance.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a wedge of watermelon in the fridge with my name on it. Seedless, of course… and my pants fit me just fine.

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March 11th, 2010 by The Watermelon Guy

MATTHEW L. OF INDIANAPOLIS, IN ASKS: Where can I get seeded watermelon? I would like to have them shipped to me or I’ll pick them up.

I hear you loud and clear, Matthew. It seems like all you can find these days are seedless watermelons, but every now and then, for old time’s sake, it would be nice to have one with seeds, right?  

While the seedless and mini varieties have taken over in popularity and demand, there certainly are still many folks who grow and sell the seeded watermelons, oblong in shape, chock full of black seeds. I get a lot of comments from people who remember the long, sweet watermelons of their youth and do not think that the seedless varieties are as good, but there is no science that supports the notion that a seeded watermelon is sweeter than a seedless.

If you really have a yearning for seeded watermelons, there are two things you can do: 1) check your local farmers’ markets and 2) talk to your local produce manager at your grocery store. He can take the request up to the store’s buyers. If a buyer believes that his customers will buy a seeded watermelon, he’ll be more apt to supply for the store. If he won’t stock
seeded watermelon (which isn’t likely), ask him if he knows where you might find some.

Hope this helps,
The Watermelon Guy

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July 20th, 2009 by The Watermelon Guy

seedlessSome people dislike watermelon seeds, but most people don’t mind them. I actually sort of like them. I’ve mentioned before that I used to spit them at my brother. I still do on those rare occasions when we’re together and watermelon is involved. I also like squeezing the seeds between my thumb and index finger and watching them go shooting off into parts unknown (usually in my brother’s direction).

Of course, if you don’t want to be bothered with seeds, you can always just buy a seedless watermelon. I remember hearing about seedless watermelons as a kid and thinking that it had to be some kind of joke or rare freak of nature thing. I imagined seedless watermelons costing hundreds of dollars each and only enjoyed by powerful world leaders or wealthy families on yachts.

Thankfully, I was wrong.

The truth is, seedless watermelons aren’t actually seedless. (Even as a child, I knew it was too good to be true.) That’s right. As those who’ve had them know, they actually contain a smattering of soft, white seeds which, admittedly, go down much easier than the hard, black seeds of regular watermelons.

So if they don’t have seeds – at least of the normal variety – how are seedless watermelons grown, you ask? Here’s some scientific stuff courtesy of Wikipedia:

They are the product of crossing a female tetraploid plant (itself the product of genetic manipulation, using colchicine) with diploid pollen. The resulting triploid plant is sterile, but will produce the seedless fruit if pollenized by a diploid plant. For this reason, commercially available seedless watermelon seeds actually contain two varieties of seeds; that of the triploid seedless plant itself (recognizable because the seed is larger), and the diploid plant which is needed to pollenize the triploid. Unless both plant types are grown in the same vicinity, no seedless fruit will result.

And how do you eat a seedless watermelon? The same way you’d eat a regular watermelon… only much faster.

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