Registration for the 2018 Watermelon Growing Contest is Now Open!

Final weights must be registered by Thursday, August 2. County agents must use event registration to register 4-H’ers and enter watermelon weight. The heaviest watermelon will then be named and awards determined. Each 4-H’er must grow his or her own watermelon and have it weighed by their County Extension Office to be eligible. Pictures will be required for the top three state awards. Additional photos may be used for other promotional purposes, so please make sure to get a photo of your 4-H’er with their watermelon.

NOTE: Certification forms are no longer necessary. All weights will be entered through event registration

A special thank you to The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association along with the Georgia Watermelon Association for their continuous support with the Georgia 4-H Watermelon Growing Contest. The state winner will receive $100. The second and third place winners will receive $50 and $25. The first 50 counties to certify a winner will receive a Georgia 4-H Watermelon Contest T-shirt for the top watermelon grower in their county. If 50 counties do not submit entries, the first 50 entries will receive t-shirts.

Entry Information

Any variety of watermelon may be used, but Carolina Cross is a highly recommended variety.  Seeds are available online but may be available locally. You will need as much time as possible for your watermelon to grow to its full size so you may want to start your seeds indoors and transfer outside after the last frost.

If you have questions regarding the Watermelon Growing Contest, please contact
Michael Rabalais at the State 4-H Office.

Growing Information

Watermelons naturally produce large fruit but growing a giant will take lots of special care. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

Culture

Watermelon vines like lots of warm sunshine, space and a well-drained soil. The vine needs an area that it can grow 12 feet in all directions.

Cultivars

When growing a giant not just any seed will do, you need to find a cultivar that will produce large melons. Carolina Cross is one cultivar that can produce melons that weigh over 200 lbs. Seed can be purchased from Wilhite Seed Company, Burpee Seed, or Gurney’s Seed. Competition caliber seeds are available at Giant Watermelons. You can also purchase seeds (3 for $10, free shipping and handling), but contacting Doug Adams in Carroll County.

Planting

It will take Carolina Cross about 90 to 95 days to mature a giant watermelon so start early. Seeds will germinate at soil temperatures of 68 to 95 degrees F. You may need to start seeds inside in pots. Plant seeds about 1 inch deep and water enough to keep the soil moist but not wet. If you start plants inside be sure to harden off transplants before they go outside. Hardening off plants is a process that gets a plant used to being outside. This is done by slightly cutting back on water and fertilizer and exposing them to slightly lower temperatures gradually.

Carolina Cross Information

Fertilizing

Watermelons need a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Apply lime if needed to adjust pH. Organic fertilizers like peanut hulls, animal manure, or composted cotton gin trash should be worked into the soil well in advance of planting if they are available. Then you should use 10 pounds of a 10-10-10 commercial fertilizer scattered and worked into a 5 to 6 foot area around the hill. Liquid fertilizer can be applied once a week around the base of the plant. Use a 20-10-20 or similar analysis soluble fertilizer until bloom then use a more balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20 until the end of the season. The foliar fertilizer should contain micronutrients. When the melon vine begins flowering add some side dress nitrogen to the soil. Three pounds of 32% N will be good, but do not get it on the leaves of the plant or it may burn them.

Care

As the vine begins to grow it will begin to set flowers, the first six to seven flowers will be male flowers (blooms on long stems) that do not produce fruit. When a female flower (larger flower with tiny fruit attached) appears you may want to gently encourage pollination by picking a male flower and brushing it over the open female bloom. Pollination is important for fruit set. After you are sure you have a watermelon set you need to prune all other fruit from the vine. Be very careful not to damage vines. After you have chosen the melon you want to become a giant you need to protect it. Protect the belly from the ground by placing the melon on a slight hill on top of some mulch to avoid standing water. You will also need to protect the melon from animals that may want to eat it. Use a fence or screen around your melon. You will also need to protect your melon from the sun. Provide a small shelter that only shades the melon.

Weeds

Start by tilling in all the weeds, then mulch as soon as possible. The mulch should stop most weed problems. Pull escapes by hand being careful not to damage watermelon roots and vine.

Watering

Water plants thoroughly once a week then allow the soil to partially dry until the fruit is set. Then water more often to keep the soil at a more constant moisture level without being excessively wet. Drip irrigation or soaker hoses are a good idea to help keep the foliage as dry as possible. Dry foliage is less susceptible to diseases.

Results

2017
Place First Name Last Name County Pounds Ounces
1 Kellee Alday Seminole 128 0
2 Andrew Groover Long 122 1
3 Jack Ogden Wayne 86 0
4 Jim Carden Crisp 70 4
5 Madison Martin Cook 59
6 Lauren Wheeler Laurens 53 2
7 Colby Thompson Walker 39
8 Ritchie Mullins Walker 26
9 Jose Hernandez Emanuel 26
10 Mattie Day Walker 21
11 Esmeralda White Emanuel 21
12 Marlie Day Walker 20
13 John White Emanuel 18
14 Jacob Bennett Grady 15 95
15 Brady Green Walker 13
16 Samuel White Emanuel 12
17 Marshal Amerson Emanuel 5
18 Kade Ballew Walker Vine Only
19 Wyatt Ballew Walker Vine Only
20 DJ Stephenson Walker Vine Only
21 Lauren Tyler Walker Vine Only
22 Andrew Lemons Walker Vine Only
23 Tori Lowrance Walker Vine Only
24 Charles Michael Smith Grady Vine Only