GROWING THE WORLD’S LARGEST WATERMELON (PART FOUR): ENTERING THE HOME STRETCH


It’s been a long summer for Chris Kent, the man who holds the Guinness World Record for the largest watermelon. His watermelons have endured cloudy weather, mice, hungry horses and all sorts of other obstacles, but the final month of the growing season is upon us.

Chris took a break from tending to his champion fruit to answer a few questions about what’s happened in his watermelon patch over the past month.

When we last checked in with you, the watermelons were close to 120 pounds. How are they looking 30 days later?

It’s been a hectic 30 days. There has been a lot of time spent feeding, watering, and spraying the plants. A few of my plants didn’t produce melons of the size and growth needed for competition, so those will be for eating.

For eating? Do giant watermelon taste just as good as regular-sized watermelon?

Oh yeah, they taste great! And they’re bigger, so there’s a lot more of them to go around!

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Have you been able to determine which specific melon will be your biggest?

It looks like the race is down to two melons (above). They’re both from a cross I made last season between two seeds from 300-pound melons. They’ve been growing well and are close in estimated weights. One is ahead by about 20 pounds, but I’ll have to wait until the end to see which will be larger, because a lot can happen over the next month.

Once you determine your potential world record holder, what happens with the other watermelon? Do you focus all of your attention of the biggest melon, or do you keep tending to the other melons, too?

I have five main weigh-offs that I attend each fall from early-September to mid-October and each melon can only be entered in one weigh-off, so I need five good melons for competition season. For that reason, I keep caring for all watermelons that show promise. Too many times I’ve had one that I didn’t think would do well, but they come back and surprise me. But, yes, the biggest and best watermelon does get the best and first care!

What’s coming up in the next 30 days (mid-August through mid-September) for the watermelons? When will you harvest them?

I’ll still be doing everything I can to add pounds and keep them growing and healthy for the next month. The main weigh-off is on September 19 in Kentucky, so I’ll harvest one of the watermelon for that. There’s also an earlier weigh-off on September 8 at the Tennessee State Fair in Nashville that I sometimes attend.

At this point, I don’t think I’ll break my world record with this year’s crop, but I think I’m still in the running for the 2015 world title. I don’t want to say what my biggest watermelons currently weigh, because many growers keep their weights a secret. There’s a lot of competition in this game, and we don’t want to show our cards before the big showdown!


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