Published on 08/15/19

Walton County watermelon is the largest in statewide 4-H contest

By Merritt Melancon

With a watermelon weighing in at 135 pounds, Jordan Smothers of Walton County won the 2019 Georgia 4-H Watermelon Growing Contest.

The melon is around five times the weight of your average watermelon and probably heavier than the boy who grew it.

Smothers, who is entering his eighth-grade year at George Walton Academy, was one of 34 Georgia 4-H’ers from throughout the state attempting to grow the largest watermelon. This is Smothers’ second year growing a giant melon. He won third place in in the contest last year with a 115-pound melon.

Growing watermelons teaches Georgia 4-H’ers problem solving skills and the importance of dedicating themselves to making something great, said Cassandra Weston-Hainsworth, Walton County’s University of Georgia Cooperative Extension 4-H agent. Georgia 4-H leaders say projects like this teach 4-H’ers how to work independently with confidence.

“Last year, (Jordan) came in the top three,” Weston-Hainsworth said. “It was great to see him use what he learned last year and develop his skills throughout the summer. I’m super proud of him, and I think he did a great job of demonstrating that tenacity and dedication that we want to foster in all of our Georgia 4-H’ers.”

Smothers started out with a rather scrawny watermelon plant and kept a journal through the spring and summer, documenting how he helped his melon reach gargantuan status.

He attributes his success this year to the time he spent preparing his planting spot through extra tilling and adding horse manure for fertilizer this year, Smothers said.

Second and third place winners were Amy Miller and Laicee Schell, both of Jeff Davis County, with watermelons that weighed 93 pounds and 78 pounds, respectively. Smothers, Miller and Schell will all receive cash prizes and certificates for the time and effort they spent tending to their plants.

Weston-Hainsworth is hoping that Smothers’ success will help get more Walton County students interested in Georgia 4-H’s watermelon- and pumpkin-growing contests. Students without home gardens can contact their local UGA Extension offices if they want to get involved. There are often spaces in community or school gardens that are perfect spots for contest vines, she said.

The Georgia Watermelon Association and the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association sponsored the contest this year.

To learn more about the Georgia 4-H Watermelon Growing Contest, visit the Georgia 4-H Watermelon Growing Contest website.

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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