Fifteen South African pumpkin growers competed in one of the closest contested competitions yet, for the title of Giant Pumpkin Champion in the 10th Shoprite and Checkers Giant Pumpkin Competition on 14 March.
Pinkie Swart from Heidelberg, the current South African record holder, was once again crowned the Giant Pumpkin Champion with his 483,6 kg pumpkin, a mere 13,5 kg short of his previous South African record of 497,5 kg. Although still far from the 1054kg World Record that was set in October 2014 by Beni Meier (Switzerland), the South African competition has seen immense growth over the last few years.
The 2015 Giant Pumpkin Champion walked away with R12 000, while Karel Robertson from Arista Farms in Heidelberg (second) and Johan du Plessis from Worcester (third) received cash prizes to the value of R7 000 and R3 500 respectively. Additional prizes were also awarded for the smallest, prettiest and ugliest pumpkins.
The Shoprite Group’s fresh fruit and vegetable procurement division, Freshmark, hosts the competition annually for South African pumpkin growers to compete during the Durbanville Farm Festival, the competition is recognized by the International Pumpkin Growers Association as an official contest, and all pumpkin sizes and records are officially recorded as such.
Wannabe pumpkin growers can obtain giant pumpkin seeds from Freshmark if they wish to enter the 2016 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 Dill’s Atlantic Giant variety.