Mobile Watermelon Seed Processing

While we’re on the subject of watermelons…

It turns out that our old way of collecting watermelon seeds just wasn’t that efficient.


We are always trying to innovate our routines at SSE and this year, Seed House Manager Tom Wahlberg managed to simplify and quicken the way we collect watermelon seeds.

  1. Previously, all the watermelon were picked in one of the fields at Heritage Farm, loaded up, and taken to the wet processing area.
  2. They were broken open, the seeds and flesh were scooped out and run through a series of screens, then the seeds were washed and dried.
  3. The remaining pulp and rinds then had to be hauled back out of the shed and the containers cleaned for the next variety that needed to be processed.

Not this year!

Tom devised a way to collect watermelon seeds in the field. He created a mobile crate screen setup, a series of screens mounted in a wooden box that is attached to the front end of a tractor.

  1. The tractor is driven down the rows of watermelons and the watermelons are placed on top of the largest screen on the setup.
  2. They are split open with a knife and the pulp containing the seeds is forced through the series of screens.
  3. The seeds are caught on the smallest size screen where they can be gathered for cleaning, while the leftover pulp and rinds stay in the field, where they can be plowed back into the soil.

Much easier (and more sanitary) than our old method.

Interested in what some of our favorite watermelons tasted like this year? We evaluated 17 different varieties and got to sample them in a farm-wide taste test.

What about you? Do you have a special way of processing watermelon seeds or do you prefer the 'old-fashioned' method?

Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization located in Decorah, Iowa, with a mission to conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.