Giant Watermelon Fruit

  • by Gabe Gusmini and Todd C. Wehner
  • Department of Horticultural Science
  • North Carolina State University
  • Raleigh, NC 27695-7609

The fruit of the cultivated watermelon may vary in weight from one to over two hundred pounds. In the United States, the commercial fruit are usually classified in four categories: icebox (<12 lb, <5.4 kg), small or pee-wee (12-18 lb, 5.4-8.2 kg), medium (18-24 lb, 8.2-10.9 kg), large (24-32 lb, 10.9-14.5 kg), and giant (>32 lb, >14.5 kg).

Historically, watermelon cultivars bearing giant fruit weighing more than two-hundred pounds, when properly cultivated, have been bred specifically for fruit competitions at State and local agricultural fairs. The most famous competition is held each year in August at Hope, Arkansas. During the Hope Watermelon Festival, local growers enter their watermelon in a competition that often established the World guinness record.

“The Guinness Book of World Records” reports the largest watermelon ever grown to be one of ten giant fruit harvested in 1990 in Arrington, Tennessee, by Mr. Bill Carson and weighing 262 pounds (118.7 kg). Previously, Mr. Middlebrooks near Hope, Arkansas, held the Guinness record with a 195 pound watermelon grown in 1935. The record stood for 44 years until the Bright family, also from Hope County, Arkansas, produced a 200 pound fruit in 1979. and a 260 pounds one in 1985.

‘Cobbs Gem’, ‘Carolina Cross #183’, ‘Florida Giant’, and ‘Weeks NC Giant’ are the most popular cultivars. Here are three giant cultivars and three mini cultivars (image JPEG).

Record watermelon fruit at the 2002 NC State Fair
Record watermelon fruit at the 2003 NC State Fair
Record watermelon fruit at the 2004 NC State Fair