“There’s no such thing as a watermelon picker, nor is there anything that tells you if it’s ripe or not. You’ve got to be able to visually see it, and know if it’s ripe.”
The person making that decision is called a cutter.
“If a cutter is going through and he actually has to touch a watermelon, or roll it over and see if the belly’s yellow, or if the little curley-cue by the stem is dead, he’s not a cutter. He’s got to be able visually look at it and say hey, that watermelon’s ready, and five feet away, and cut that watermelon.”
Once the ripe melons have been identified, harvesters go to work.
“And then after it’s cut, it’s laid over in the center of the row. Then, the harvesters come through and each one is hand picked up and tossed into a truck, and then brought into the warehouse.”
Any harvesting process will involve some losses.
“We shoot for 5% or less. Every now and then, if the temperatures get too hot, and they’re a little rough handling, we’ll have up as high as maybe 10%, and then we start getting on to everybody, let’s handle ‘em easy. Let’s do it like eggs, because, like the past 3 days, it’s been up 100 degrees in the fields, and the watermelons can’t take that. It’s 97% water.”
And once the fruit makes it to the Wiggins’ warehouse.
“You could be eating our watermelon on a table in Quebec, one in Chicago, or New York, 5 to 7 days after it’s pulled here, they can have a fork in it.”
Apparently our Yankee cousins and their neighbors to the north are enjoying their taste of the Brazos Valley. I’m Joe Brown, looking at the journey our food makes from the farm to our tables, From the Ground Up.