The biggest-known cantaloupe just set a world record and was grown in NC

A cantaloupe breaking the Guinness World Record, grown right here in NC

At 65.9 pounds, a cantaloupe grown by Danny Vester in Spring Hope, NC, is now the largest in the world. Vester is well-known for growing large pumpkins and watermelons too.
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At 65.9 pounds, a cantaloupe grown by Danny Vester in Spring Hope, NC, is now the largest in the world. Vester is well-known for growing large pumpkins and watermelons too.

The world-champion cantaloupe grew slowly in Danny Vester’s garden, hidden from the sun, adding a pound of orange flesh a day until it reached a scale-busting 65.9 pounds — a new world record.

At first glance, Vester’s super fruit resembled a half-deflated beach ball, perched on the scale at the N.C. Farmer’s Market like a grandfather toad, too lumpy and misshapen for anybody’s breakfast.

But for Vester, a retiree and cancer survivor in Spring Hope, the prize cantaloupe represents months of pampering, hiding his baby under leafy branches and feeding it micronutrients.

He beamed Tuesday when N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler announced the record-breaking weight for his cantaloupe, a pound heavier than the old 64.8-pound mark set in Alaska in 2004, according to the Guinness World Records.

“You can usually spot the one that’s going to be the best,” Vester said. “You might put more leaves on it than the others.”

N.C. farmer Danny Vester watches as his cantaloupe becomes a world record winner weighing in at 65.90 pounds beating the old record of 64.80 pounds at the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh, N.C. Tuesday, August 14, 2018.The old record of 64.80 pounds was held by an Alaskan farmer. Chuck Liddy cliddy@newsobserver.com

Vester’s achievement is grander considering that cantaloupes normally grow to the size of a crystal ball, weighing as much as a hardback novel. To understand the size of a 65-pound melon, consider the following comparisons.

This piece of fruit weighs more than the average 9-year-old boy, according to disabled-world.com.

If Vester were to take his prize cantaloupe on a Southwest Airlines flight, he would pay a $75 overweight fee.

The average cantaloupe weighs about 3 pounds, thekitchn.com reports, so Vester’s beauty represents nearly more than 20 fruits.

Dropped from a height of 100 feet, a 65-pound cantaloupe hits the ground at 24 mph with 6,476 foot-pounds of force — roughly five times the muzzle energy of a bullet fired from a Colt .45. (That’s according to an online “free fall calculator.”)

Vester’s record-breaker has a seed line dating back to a giant cantaloupe grown in 1993, from which he grew a 55-pounder, which in turn provided seeds for a 59-pounder, which in turn spawned the champion.

Four years ago, Vester grew North Carolina’s biggest-ever pumpkin, a 1,404-pound whopper that filled his pickup bed with a half-inch to spare. He named it “Sammy,” and the record stood four years.

To date, he is the only North Carolina grower with three 1,200-pound pumpkins under his belt, according to officials at the N.C. State Fair.

Vester briefly held the state’s watermelon title in 2017 with a 237-pounder, losing it later in the season to a 316-pound beauty grown by Todd Dawson of Garner, who is also an ice sculptor and attended Tuesday’s weighing ceremony.

“I always like to see North Carolina at the top of everything we do,” Troxler said. “This is just another to add to the list.”

As with all world records, Guinness will need to certify the winner, whose weight was widely photographed.

This choice cantaloupe, however, will get sliced open for seeds and science only. The tastier fruits keep to a reasonable weight.

Josh Shaffer: 919-829-4818, @joshshaffer08

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