The melons are bursting by the score, creating what state media calls fields of "land mines."
The watermelons began to pop after farmers gave them overdoses of a growth accelerator, forchlorfenuron, in an effort to boost their yield.
About 20 farmers around Danyang city in Jiangsu province were affected, losing up to 115 acres of melon, China Central Television said in an investigative report.
Chinese regulations don't forbid the drug, and it is allowed in the U.S. on kiwi fruit and grapes. But the report underscores how farmers in China are abusing both legal and illegal chemicals, with many farms misusing pesticides and fertilizers.
Prices over the past year prompted many farmers to jump into the watermelon market. All of those with exploding melons apparently were first-time users of the growth accelerator, though it has been widely available for some time, CCTV said.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.