The heat and humidity of the past few months destroyed the perfect pumpkin growing conditions for many growers.
Only two giant pumpkins made it to Kyogle’s Giant Pumpkin and Watermelon Festival on Saturday.
One broke the Southern Hemisphere record.
Dale Oliver’s pumpkin, grown at Knockrow, weighed in at a hefty 867kg.
He was the winner last year and has the advantage of growing on the coast where temperatures are cooler.
It’s still hard work to grow the giant vegetable, Dale said.
The reigning champ had some growing tips for those wanting to give it a go.
“The right pruning on the vine, start early in August and use heaps of fertiliser,” Dale said.
Festival president John Leadbetter lost his 295kg pumpkin in the two weeks when the temperatures stayed around 30-40 degrees.
“It was too hot and there was lots of rain and it puts pumpkins into shutdown mode,” he said. “It doesn’t make me look good.”
There were two watermelon entries with Kyogle winner Chris Pike’s melon weighing 21.5kg.
It was his first time entering the competition.
“I won by default because the Queenslanders couldn’t get here,” he said of the covid border closures.
While the crowds were busy photographing giant pumpkins, Dale explained that cultivating a giant pumpkin is a scientific process.
His champion pumpkin took 82 days to grow and there was a lot of testing of the soil to ensure growing conditions were right.
Adam Bryant, 7, from Kyogle won the junior pumpkin event.
Kyogle Tidy Towns ran the event.
This article appeared in the Richmond River Independent, 13 January 2021.