Mar 7, 2011

A collosal pumpkin weighing 349,2 kg ensured an easy win for Johan du Plessis from Worcester who competed against 17 other pumpkin growers for the 2011 Shoprite Checkers Giant Pumpkin Champion crown. This Giant Pumpkin Competition was held at the Fairbridge Mall in Brackenfell on 5 March 2011. Johan, who also won the competition in 2009 with a 295 kg giant pumpkin, was elated to this year again walk away with the championship title and prize money of R10 000. 

The second prize of R5 000 was awarded to Chrisjan Gunter from Heidelberg for his 290 kg pumpkin, while a 270,8 kg pumpkin positioned Pieter Smit from Langebaan in third place with a cash prize of R2 000. 

The award for most attractive pumpkin went to Jan Celliers from Vereeniging who received a Freshmark hamper for his dark orange 122.2kg beauty. Freshmark hampers were also awarded to Kobus Meyer from Heidelberg for entering the most akward looking 205.6 kg pumpkin, and Danie Visser for entering the smallest “giant” pumkin of 26.6kg. 

Contests for pumpkin growers competing on size are very popular all over the world. Freshmark, the Shoprite Group’s fresh fruit and vegetable procurement division, annually provides an opportunity for South African pumpkin growers to show off their green fingers. The competition kicked off in August 2010, when 57 pumpkin growers acquired giant pumpkin seeds from Freshmark with which to enter the 2011 Giant Pumpkin Competition. Pumpkin growers can enter the competition with pumpkins grown from any seeds, but the seeds provided by Freshmark are special in that they are not genetically modified in any way, and originate from giant pumpkins from the North American Atlantic Giant variety weighing between 150 kilograms and 300 kilograms. 

The Shoprite Checkers Giant Pumpkin Competition is registered with the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth and all pumpkin weights verified at the event are recognized as official in terms of international giant pumpkin records. The current South African Giant Pumpkin record of 379,5 kg was in fact set at the 2008 Shoprite Checkers Giant Pumpkin Competition by Drikus Kleynhans of Sasolburg. 

These Giant Pumpkins are truly something to see! The winning pumpkin will be exhibited to the public at Checkers Stellenbosch until 19 March 2011. The second place pumpkin will be displayed at Checkers Hyper Fairbridge Mall in Brackenfell, and the punpkin that came in third will be on display at Checkers Mountain Mill in Worcester.

Besides being tasty, pumpkins are renowned for their nutritional value. All the pumpkins entered into the competition will be donated to childrens’ and old age homes so that young and old can share in the goodness of this healthy fruit.

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