Madelynn Murphy, a fourth-grade 4-H’er from Appling County, earned a sweet victory in the 2022 Georgia 4-H Watermelon Growing Contest with a girthy melon weighing in at 109.5 pounds. The conclusion of the contest was held on National Watermelon Day, August 3.
The contest, which offers students the opportunity to learn and use their knowledge of agricultural and environmental sciences to produce prize-winning fruit, cultivates an appreciation for proper fruit and vegetable growing techniques. In addition to the basics of caring for watermelons, contestants incorporate mathematical knowledge of space, depth and irrigation needs for their plants. They also develop problem-solving skills for common agricultural challenges such as insect control.
With entries from 49 4-H’ers from around Georgia, weights for winning watermelons were verified by University of Georgia Cooperative Extension agents at county offices to ensure accuracy.
Second place went to Aiden Connell from Appling County with a 92.5-pound watermelon. Third place went to Chloe Boatwright, also from Appling, with a 73.5-pound watermelon.
First, second and third place winners received cash prizes and ribbons to recognize their enormous entries.
Appling County enjoyed great success in the contest this year. “Growing watermelons teaches basic plant science in a hands-on and fun way. Pretty much every kid thinks it’s neat to have a 100-pound watermelon in the backyard,” said Shane Curry, Appling County Agriculture and Natural Resources agent. “We’ve been fortunate over the past few years to have a lot of kids that are really good at it, and they keep getting better.”
Georgia’s warm summers provide the ideal climate for growing successful watermelons, and most 4-H’ers grow the 'Carolina Cross' watermelon variety for their contest entries. 'Carolina Cross' is generally considered the largest watermelon variety and the seeds are readily available for purchase from local retailers and online.
Georgia 4-H empowers youth to become true leaders by developing necessary life skills, positive relationships and community awareness. As the largest youth leadership organization in the state, 4-H reaches more than 225,000 people annually through UGA Extension offices and 4-H facilities.