GOLDEN GLORY: Growing partners Stephen Leadbeatter and Kevin Donaghy, of Kyogle, with the two giant pumpkins they hope will bring them glory at the Kyogle Pumpkin Festival on Saturday. PHOTO: DOUG EATON
GOLDEN GLORY: Growing partners Stephen Leadbeatter and Kevin Donaghy, of Kyogle, with the two giant pumpkins they hope will bring them glory at the Kyogle Pumpkin Festival on Saturday. PHOTO: DOUG EATON

Heavyweights in pumpkins

KYOGLE'S Stephen Leadbeatter had no idea how nerve-wracking growing giant pumpkins could be.

The self-declared pumpkin novice has been on tenterhooks since he and growing partner Kevin Donaghy's two giant Atlantic pumpkins started expanding at an alarming rate.

The pair has watched them grow from tiny little nubs barely discernable on the vine to massive orange hulks they hope may have a shot at winning the biggest pumpkin title at Saturday's Pumpkin Festival at the Kyogle Showground.

"I know other pumpkin growers have had a bit of trouble with first the dry weather then all the rain," Mr Leadbeatter said.

"I really didn't have a clue what I was doing, but luckily we've not had any problems really.

"That's not to say we won't.

"That's the nerve-wracking part about it all because you can lose them overnight."

The vines can get mildew or the pumpkins can rot, particularly in the current wet, humid conditions.

But with a bit of luck, Mr Leadbeatter and Mr Donaghy hope that come 8.30 Saturday morning, they will be unloading both pumpkins at the Pumpkin Festival at the Kyogle Showground, ready to be weighed.

Chris Pike, one of the organisers of the Kyogle Pumpkin Festival and a horticulturalist who cultivated the giant Atlantic pumpkin seedlings, said the hot, windy conditions in early January, followed by floods and the ongoing wet weather since, had made life very difficult for growers.

He said a lot of the fruit didn't set and a fairly high percentage of those that did had been subject to rot. "I grew a pumpkin that I estimated would have been about 180kg and have just this week found it has rotted," Mr Pike said.

"Even so, we have a lot of keen growers out there and we're hoping to get a decent showing."

At a glance

  • Judging for both will take place from 11-11.30am on Saturday. The pumpkins will be able to be viewed from 9am.
  • ABC gardening guru Phil Dudman will compere the event, and the whole community is invited to come along.


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