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How I grew my 207.6 lb Watermelon
By Jane Hunt, Sec/Tres. GVGO

*Below: Watermelon: Over-the-Top Inches With Estimated Weight

Jane Hunt and her Canadian record 207.6 pound watermelon.

I must start by telling you I've only been growing Giant Watermelons for about 5 years now. My husband Phil & good friend Marv Mitchell have been a great help in my quest to beat the Canadian Record. Bill Donkers of Brights Grove, Ontario, held the previous Canadian Record of 207.5 lbs. He was kind enough to provide me with the seeds that broke his record. Thanks Bill.

Growing Giant Watermelons is more associated with the hot, dry weather of the Southern US, than it is with our typical Canadian summers. The summer of 2005 was an extremely hot and dry and had a real impact on our pumpkin plants. The heat burned the leaves and stunted the growth of the pumpkin plants. On the other hand, our watermelon plants loved it.

We start with an area of 10' x 20' for each plant. We have been working on our soil for many years and feel that we are getting close to having it in great condition for watermelons. Over the years we've added copious amounts of aged manure and other organic materials. Our Organic Matter was at 24% & the PH level was 7.2 to start the season. We would prefer the PH level to be lower (6.7 or lower is best), but this is what we had to work with. At each planting site we dug a hole 2' x 2' & 1.5' deep and added a mixture of cow & sheep manure, peat moss & compost and covered it with clear plastic to warm up the soil.

We start our seeds @ the 15th of April and file the edges to help them break out of the hard casing. We have found that germinating the seeds can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. We soak the seeds for up to 6 hours in a mixture of water & 3% peroxide, which is diluted to about 5%. Just enough peroxide to kill any diseases the seed might be carrying. We place the seeds directly into a 2-litre pot filled with Miracle-Gro potting soil and place the pot in our germination cooler. In the bottom of the cooler is a germination pad that keeps the temperature @ 85 degrees F, until germination occurs in a few days. They are slow to start and sometimes take up to 2 weeks to break the surface. Once they break through the surface we put them under artificial light to keep them from getting too leggy. Keep the light close to the top of the plant, so they're not reaching for the light and move the light up as the plant grows. We found that putting them in the window causes the seedling to become leggy as they reach for the sunlight.

We transplant the seedlings into the ground @ the 3rd week in May or whenever the conditions permit. We put them in the middle of our planting mounds and protect them with a mini greenhouse. Fertilize with a light solution of water soluble 10-52-10 to help promote root growth. Once they are established and starting to vine, we switched to a more balanced water soluble 20-20-20.

The main vine was growing out to about 8 ft when I mistakenly cut the vine trying to thin out the plant. This caused the plant to shoot out more vines from the stump of the plant. We allowed these vines to grow out to the full 20 ft before we terminated them. We also trimmed the plant's secondary vines to help keep the plant from getting out-of-control. The plant will root at each leaf nod. We don't bury the entire vine, as we found that it promoted disease and killed the plant the one time we tried it. We do however place a little dirt at every 4th or 5th leaf node to promote root growth. This will keep the vine flat on the soil and allow the roots to form at the other leaf nodes that aren't covered.

Pollinating the fruit is a bit of a challenge as well. The flowers are small and very fragile. We hand pollinated them and covered them up afterwards. We found the best time to do this was after the dew had dried from the plant (about 8-9am). For some reason or another the pollen never formed on the female flowers until then. We took the male flowers, peeled the peddles off them and gently rub the male all around the female flower. You must make sure you see pollen on the flower or it won't take. Once the female has been pollinated cover it up with a small bag or cup. Don't try to cover it like you would your pumpkins because the flowers are too fragile.

Once the fruit begins to grow, watch the shape very closely. You want to make sure that it is growing straight. The shape of a bottle of water is what you're looking for. During this early period we gave the plant about a gallon of water a day, just enough to keep the soil damp, not soaked. As the fruit grew we increased that amount. During the peak periods we were giving each plant about 5-8 gallons of water per day, more if it was really dry. We continue to fertilize with 20-20-20 right up till the end of the season. We also foliar fed the plant with Neptune's Harvest Fish/Seaweed mix every two weeks.

Disease & pest control are a must. We sprayed with Sevin to control bugs and used Benemyl as a fungicide. We had trouble with moles and mice as well. The moles were digging throughout the whole patch. We tried mothballs to keep them out, but this didn't work all that well. Next year we need to find something better. Mice were chewing on the vines in search of water. Our solution to that was to place a container of water in the patch for them to drink. Beside it we placed a bag of mouse poison to kill them off. This seemed to work fine.

Once the weather starts to cool (September) we covered the plant completely at night. This helped keep the plant warmer. We also covered the fruit at night with a small blanket and put Styrofoam under the fruit to keep the cool damp soil off bottom the fruit to keep it from rotting.

Over time you will be able to fine-tune your own techniques that suit the area where you grow. These directions are only meant as guidelines. We will be handing out seeds from Jane's Canadian Record watermelon during the GVGO's 2006 Membership Drive. Seeds will also be available through the GVGO. Email us at gvgo@sympatico.ca or contact us at: GVGO, C/o Jane Hunt, 4376 Hwy 35 N, Cameron, Ontario, K0M 1G0. Supplies are very limited; so only ask us for seeds if you really want to grow them.

Watermelon: Over-the-Top Inches With Estimated Weight (get MS Excel version)
Note: Can Go 7% Under Or 19% Over Estimate
Inches Lbs. Inches Lbs. Inches Lbs. Inches Lbs.
91 28.3 124 62.0 157 115.0 190 193.8
92 29.0 125 63.4 158 117.5 191 196.3
93 29.8 126 64.6 159 118.8 192 200.0
94 30.6 127 66.0 160 121.3 193 202.5
95 31.5 128 67.4 161 123.8 194 205.0
96 32.3 129 68.8 162 125.0 195 208.8
97 33.1 130 70.1 163 127.5 196 211.3
98 34.0 131 71.5 164 130.0 197 215.0
99 34.9 132 72.9 165 131.3 198 217.5
100 35.9 133 74.4 166 133.8 199 220.0
101 36.8 134 75.9 167 136.3 200 223.8
102 37.6 135 77.4 168 138.8 201 226.3
103 38.6 136 78.9 169 141.3 202 230.0
104 39.6 137 80.4 170 142.5 203 233.8
105 40.5 138 81.9 171 145.0 204 236.3
106 41.5 139 83.5 172 147.5 205 240.0
107 42.5 140 85.1 173 150.0 206 242.5
108 43.5 141 86.6 174 152.5 207 246.3
109 44.6 142 88.3 175 155.0 208 250.0
110 45.6 143 90.0 176 157.5 209 252.5
111 46.8 144 91.6 177 160.0 210 256.3
112 47.8 145 93.4 178 162.5 211 260.0
113 48.9 146 95.0 179 165.0 212 263.8
114 50.0 147 96.8 180 167.5 213 267.5
115 51.1 148 98.5 181 170.0 214 270.0
116 52.3 149 100.3 182 172.5 215 273.8
117 53.4 150 102.1 183 175.0 216 277.5
118 54.6 151 103.8 184 177.5 217 281.3
119 55.8 152 106.3 185 180.0 218 285.0
120 57.0 153 107.5 186 182.5 219 288.8
121 58.3 154 110.0 187 186.3 220 292.5
122 59.5 155 111.3 188 188.8 221 296.3
123 60.8 156 113.8 189 191.3 222 300.0

 

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