A giant cattle pumpkin weighing in at 192kg has netted Bega farmer Noel Watson a champions medal from the Sydney Royal Easter Show.
Mr Watson said he has been growing produce for Sydney Royal and the Southern Districts exhibit for more than 40 years, but this time he hit the big time.
The monster took only around four months to grow into the largest Mr Watson has managed on his Snowy Mountains Hwy property where he runs beef cattle and sheep.
“Like growing anything, the more TLC you give it the better,” he said.
“With a dry summer it’s been very hard to keep water up to it. Mulch helps.”
Mr Watson’s secret to success could be in what goes into his soil – a lot of compost, grass clippings, scrap wood that he burns and then digs in the ash...and dead cows.
“If we get a dead cow we bury it about two feet under,” he said.
Other tips are keeping the growing pumpkin shaded from the sun – “but then you’ve got to watch out for rats that dig up from underneath.”
He said a lot of work goes into growing show produce, but it’s not about counting the cost. “You do it for the fun of it,” he said.
However, Mr Watson can’t rest on his laurels.
“I said that if I ever got to 200kg I’m knocking off – so now I’ve got to keep going,” he said with a chuckle.
Mr Watson said he has heard of cattle pumpkins tipping it at up to 600kg.
As an interesting aside, top Tasmanian grower Shane Newitt was quoted in a Fairfax article at the start of the year as saying he believed a new Australian record pumpkin would one day be grown around Bega.