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Georgia's giant pumpkins test 4-H'ers, wow their neighbors

By for CAES News

Every year around this time the national news is filled with stories of monument-sized pumpkins from places like Maine and Michigan, but Georgians are no slouches when it comes to giant produce.

Gardeners here produce 200- to 350-pound pumpkins each fall. Some of those gardeners are only about one-quarter of the size of their prize pumpkins.

This year dozens of Georgia 4-H youths tried their hands at growing mammoth pumpkins and entered them into the 2012 Georgia 4-H Pumpkin Growing Contest”t. Trey Thomas, of White County, won first-place with his 342-pound pumpkin. Tift County’s Jasper Utley took second place with a 281-pound pumpkin and Piper Brown, of Henry County, took third with her 260-pound gourd.

“This year’s contest showcased the heaviest crop we have seen since 2008, and Georgia 4-H could not be more proud of each of the participants,” said Jenna B. Daniel, the Georgia 4-H program assistant who manages the contest. “The preparation, research, and patience these 4-H’ers put into their projects is a perfect representation of their commitment to engaging in learning and their mastery of skills essential to successfully harvesting their pumpkin.”

The top three 4-H’ers will each receive a cash prize, sponsored by the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Association, in recognition of the months they spent tending their plants.

4-H organizers like the pumpkin contest because it teaches students the responsibility needed to complete a long-term project, the self motivation and confidence needed to tackle a project independently and the ability to use problem solving skills to persevere against insects, dry spells and pumpkin diseases.

But more importantly for the 4-H members, the payoff is really the chance to wow their friends and neighbors and have people ask if they can take a picture with their pumpkin.

To learn more about the Georgia 4-H Pumpkin Growing Contest, contact Jenna B. Daniel at jbrown10@uga.edu or (706) 542-4444.

Merritt Melancon is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
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