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It would have been his biggest ever and likely a state record. Hal Vaughn’s watermelon had a girth of over five feet – 63 inches to be exact.
Taking a few measurements on the watermelon, Hal plugged that information into a formula that provides an accurate estimation of the weight. The formula is used by big melon growers across the country and is considered very accurate. These measurements indicated that Hal’s melon would have been in the 250 to 280 pound range, more than enough to break the 2013 state record of 239.5 pounds.
But it wasn’t meant to be.
Last Thursday Hal noticed a small split in the melon, disqualifying it for an official state record entry.
Still curious about the weight, he put it on certified scales the following day. It weighed 209 pounds. When he split the melon, there was nothing inside. Just about all the guts and juice had seeped out of the small split. Hal told me that the innards must have been leaking out for several weeks, which coincided with the measurements he had been taking once per week. A couple of weeks before he noticed the small split, the measurements indicated the melon had stopped growing.
It’s hard to believe that the melon still weighed 209 pounds with no innards, or what little was left inside would barely fill a hat.
It was a huge disappointment, Hal estimated the melon weighed 150 pounds at the start of August. It had been growing several pounds a day since then. The vines feeding the melon were still green, even blooming and putting on melons. The main vine was almost as big as your arm. Hal had been on a mission to break the 2013 state record set by Jerry Vaughn for several years and this looked to be the year.
But more importantly, he wanted that record to generate interest to entice more melon growers for the annual Watermelon Carnival melon contest.
In the 2022 Watermelon Carnival competition, the three top melon growers all come from Vaughn’s watermelon seeds. Hal won first with a 168.8 pound melon, Allen Rogers took second with a 145.3 pound melon and Kathryn Fielder placed third with a 118.1 pound melon. Hal is already doing a great job getting others involved in the annual competition as he shares knowledge and seeds.
His work is important to help revive Water Valley’s deep watermelon roots. Jerry Vaughn set the state record in 2013 with his 239.5 melon. Water Valley set a world record in 2019 with the largest watermelon eating contest. People connect Water Valley and watermelons and it’s good marketing for the city and Watermelon Carnival.
Hal likes to win as much as anybody I know, but he loves competition even more. That is another reason why he wants more melon growers to participate in the annual carnival contest. Let Hal know if you want to get in on the action. He has seeds from some of the biggest Carolina Cross melons grown in the country and from his biggest melons.
Make no mistake it takes a lot of work to grow a 200-plus pound melon, but it is also a lot of fun! And Hal has already working on a solution to protect the bottom of his melons from splitting for next year’s crop. Next year may be the year for a new state record!