Two Turner County brothers made Georgia 4-H history this summer by growing the largest watermelons in the Georgia 4-H Watermelon Growing Contest.
Dylan Gravitt won first place with a 140-pound watermelon, and his brother, Jacob Gravitt, won second place with his 136-pound watermelon. Kellee Alday of Seminole County won third place with a 109-pound watermelon.
Growing gigantic, award-winning watermelons takes skill, patience and time. Young gardeners across the state are encouraged to plan ahead to enter the annual Georgia 4-H pumpkin or watermelon growing contests.
The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association sponsors both contests. First-place winners get $100 each. Second- and third-place winners receive $50 and $25 each, respectively. The first 50 entrants receive a contest T-shirt.
The goal of the contests is to get Georgia students interested in agriculture and in growing their own crops, said Olivia Browning, a Georgia 4-H program specialist and the contests’ coordinator.
Any watermelon variety may be grown, but University of Georgia Cooperative Extension experts highly recommend the Carolina Cross variety. When it comes to growing pumpkins, UGA Extension experts suggest growing varieties like Atlantic Giant, Big Max, Big Moon, Prizewinner and Connecticut Field. All of the 2008 pumpkin contest winners grew Atlantic Giant pumpkins.
To enter either contest, a 4-H’er must grow the watermelon or pumpkin and have it weighed by their local UGA Extension agent. The deadline for watermelon contest submissions is typically in early August. The pumpkin contest deadline this year is Thursday, Oct. 1.
The top three state winners for each contest are required to submit a photo of themselves with their harvest. Information about the contests, including photos of the past winners, can be found online at georgia4h.org.