Dale's serves up biggest pumpkin for the third year in a row
DALE Oliver confirmed his status as Australia's best grower of big vegetables when he won the Summerland pumpkin competition for the third year running at Kyogle on Saturday.
His giant pumpkin hit the scales at 674 kilograms and put him ahead of Garry Smith's second-placed 595kg effort.
Mr Smith, vice-president of the Summerland Giant Growers Association, also came in second to Mr Oliver in 2014.
"He is a very good grower, but I am trying to catch him. It is a bit of a joke between us now," he said.
It was the third time Mr Oliver had won the local event held at the Kyogle Showground, and his produce last year, a whopping 674kgs pumpkin, still holds the Australian record.
John Mills from Brunswick Heads produced a watermelon weighing just under 80kgs to win his section of the annual competition.
Mr Smith said the competition had really started to blossom in just five years.
This year's event attracted 35 entrants and he hoped to see 50 for next year.
"We want to get bigger and better," he said.
"It was a pretty good day - we had a lot of interested people here - and it was great to see the local mayor here as well."
There was plenty of advice and seeds for people who wanted to try their hand at growing giants.
The Australian giant vegetable community took its lead from growing groups in the United States, who provided the special seed variety Atlantic Giant and lots of know-how, Mr Smith said.
"The world's biggest pumpkin weighed over a tonne.
"The bad news for vegetable-lovers is that the big-growing varieties are not really worth eating, and are just for the cows.
"If the varieties were edible, you would really have to like pumpkin."
The key to growing big pumpkins was good soil, good seed and lots of care and fertiliser.
The huge vegies grow in just 80-odd days over summer and, in one 24-hour period, Mr Smith saw one of his pumpkins put on 14kgs.
"The weather also has a lot to do with it - you need a lot of luck," he said.