Chris Kent

Heaviest Watermelon, Allardt, Tenn., Great Pumpkin Festival and Weigh-Off

How much did this first place watermelon weigh?

213.2 pounds

To be exact?

A few years ago they went to electronic scales, so everything now is point whatever.

Is there something special in the Sevier County atmosphere that makes watermelons grow that big?

No, actually it's a special variety—Carolina Cross—and even if you just put 'em in your normal garden and let them grow they would still produce a 60-70 pound melon. For one that's 180 pounds or better, it takes about 300 square feet per plant—and just one fruit per plant. It's a gamble. "Am I cutting off the winning one?"

Do you use a lot of fertilizer?

Not really. Instead, you want soil that's really fertile so you get steady growth—lots of compost or well-rotted manure. If you use chemicals, a big rain goes straight to the melon, and it makes them prone to breaking. The best I did, the watermelon was averaging five pounds a day.

How long have you farmed?

I'm not a farmer, I grow just in my yard. This is my fourth year growing large fruit and my first with watermelons. I came in third with a pumpkin my very first year at Allardt—I found out the state record was 725 pounds, and I made 789 pounds, and I had the record for like 10 minutes.

Can you plant the seeds?

Yes, it's not a hybrid. I belong to a club out of Canada that saves and trades seeds. That's where I got the seeds I won with.

Is a watermelon that big still good to eat?

We actually cut it open this past Sunday and ate it, and it was very good—very sweet. We were pleasantly surprised, because to get that big, it's 90 days old.

Did you have leftovers?

Oh, yeah, I've still got some in the refrigerator.