Sat Mar 16 06:49:14 UTC 2013

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A new South African record for Giant Pumpkins was set on Saturday, 16 March 2013 when Johan du Plessis from Worcester won the 2013 Shoprite Checkers Giant Pumpkin competition held in Durbanville. His colossal pumpkin weighing a massive 417,5 kg ensured an easy win, and prize money of R10 000, for Johan who competed against 26 other pumpkin growers for the title of Giant Pumpkin Champion.

Johan beat the previous record of 390 kg set by his son, Henry du Plessis from Worcester at the 2012 Shoprite Checkers Giant Pumpkin Competition, by 27.5 kg. Henry had to take a back seat with his 376,5 kg pumpkin, but was still awarded third place with a cash prize of R2 000.

The second prize of R5 000 was awarded to Vic Brand from Heidelberg for his 379 kg pumpkin. Pinkie Swart, also from Heidelberg, had a very impressive 340 kg entry, with which he earned fourth place.

Green fingers also seem to be a skill passed on through generations in the Du Plessis family. Not only did Johan win this year’s competition, but he has also held the title twice before. Grandson, Johan Jnr, will soon be showing father Henry and grandfather, Johan du Plessis how things should be done. 13-year-old Johan Jnr entered a giant of 337,5 kg to earn fifth place in this year’s competition.

It seems that 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 in any previous year.

The award for most attractive pumpkin went to Karel Botha Jnr from Malmesbury who received a Freshmark Padkos hamper for his 63 kg beauty. Freshmark hampers were also awarded to Wilhelm van Rensburg from Heidelberg for entering the most awkward looking pumpkin at 202,5 kg and Rowen Simonse from Windmeul for entering the smallest “giant” pumpkin of 56 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 2013 competition kicked off in August last year, when pumpkin growers could acquire giant pumpkin seeds from Freshmark. Pumpkin growers can enter the competition with pumpkins grown from any seeds, but the seeds provided by Freshmark are special in that they 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! Some of this year’s Giant Pumpkin entries will be exhibited to the public from this coming weekend at Checkers Stellenbosch, Checkers Hyper Fairbridge Mall (Brackenfell), Checkers Mountain Mill (Worcester), Checkers Durbanville, Checkers Malmesbury and Checkers Paarl.

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.  For more information on the competition visit

Giant Pumpkin 2013
Giant Pumpkin 2013
Third place winner, Henry du Plessis from Worcester is proud of his 376,5 kg pumpkin, even if it wasn’t enough to defend his 2012 record.

Shoprite/Checkers Giant Pumpkin Competition Fact Sheet:
2008 Drikus Kleinhans 379,5 kg (previous SA record)
2009 Johan du Plessis 295 kg
2010 Drikus Kleinhans 320 kg
2011 Johan du Plessis 349,2 kg
2012 Henry du Plessis 390 kg (previous SA record)
2013 Johan du Plessis 417,5 kg (new SA record)

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