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Published on 10/31/13

Georgia 4-H'ers produce huge pumpkins

By Merritt Melancon

People often associate giant pumpkins with northern states like Michigan and Massachusetts, but Georgia gardeners routinely produce 200- to 350-pound pumpkins. What makes those giant gourds more remarkable is that some of these 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 2013 Georgia 4-H Pumpkin Growing Contest.

Ree Daniel of Tift County won first-place with her 252-pound pumpkin. Tift County’s Jasper Utley took second place with a 216-pound pumpkin and Caroline Daniel Brown of Terrell County took third with her 213-pound gourd.

This is Utley’s second year taking home the second place prize for his pumpkin. Last year, he grew a 281-pound squash.

“All of the participating 4-H’ers did a great a job with producing pumpkins for this contest,” said Tyler Ashley, state 4-H program assistant and pumpkin contest coordinator. “On behalf of myself and the entire the 4-H staff we are so proud of all the 4-H’ers and of the efforts of the Extension agents and volunteers who make this contest a success.”

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 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 Tyler Ashley at tashley1@uga.edu or (706) 542-4444.

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