Mar 17, 2012
A new South African record for Giant Pumpkins was set today (17 March 2012) by Henry du Plessis from Worcester at the 2012 Shoprite Checkers Giant Pumpkin competition held in Brackenfell. His colossal pumpkin weighing a massive 390 kg ensured an easy win, and prize money of R10 000, for Henry who competed against 20 other pumpkin growers for the title of Giant Pumpkin Champion.
The second prize of R5 000 was awarded to Pinkie Swart from Heidelberg for his 357,5 kg pumpkin, while a 335,5 kg pumpkin positioned Johan Louw from Clanwilliam in third place with a cash prize of R2 000.
It seems as if the cultivating skills of South African pumpkin growers continue to improve with each season as could be seen in this year’s competition that had more pumpkins over 250 kg than any year before. Kobus Meyer from Heidelberg had his pumpkin weigh in at 311.5 kg and Pieter Smit from Langebaan had a very impressive 263 kg entry.
Green fingers also seem be a skill passed on through generations in the Du Plessis family, as Henry’s father, Johan du Plessis – also a previous Giant Pumpkin Champion, entered a 297 kg pumpkin, and Henry’s son, Johan (jnr) did very well with a 284 kg pumpkin.
The award for most attractive pumpkin went to Ansie van Zyl from Panorama who received a Freshmark hamper for her deep orange 145 kg beauty. Freshmark hampers were also awarded to Herman Rossouw from Eendekuil for entering the most awkward looking 144.5 kg pumpkin, and Graham Lightfoot from Bellville for entering the smallest “giant” pumpkin of 13.5 kg.
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 2012 competition kicked off in August 2011, when 65 pumpkin growers entered the competition and could acquire giant pumpkin seeds from Freshmark with which to grow their pumpkins. 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.
These Giant Pumpkins are truly something to see! The winning pumpkin will be exhibited to the public at Checkers Stellenbosch. The second place pumpkin will be displayed at Checkers Hyper Fairbridge Mall in Brackenfell, and the pumpkin that came in third will be on display at Checkers Durbanville.
Besides being tasty, pumpkins are renowned for their nutritional value. Many of the pumpkins entered into the competition will be donated to children’s’ and old age homes, or feeding programmes, so that young and old can share in the goodness of this healthy fruit.