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Knight’s 193-lb. melon biggest at festival

Franklin County’s annual Watermelon Festival is fast becoming the “Clif Knight Show.”

Knight, a Hartselle native and Decatur resident, has shown the biggest watermelon at the Russellville festival four of the past five years. He missed the competition in 2010 while serving in Iraq with the Alabama Army National Guard.

The 228-pound Carolina Cross he grew in 2011 set a new state record.

The second place entry at Russellville tipped the scales at 180 pounds. It was grown in Franklin County from seed obtained from Knight.

“This was not a good year for watermelon growers,” said Knight. “A mild winter was followed by an extended drought and a rainy July. I measured 10 inches of rain in two days.

“But worst of all, a fungus called Circus Spora attacked my watermelons in late July and slowed their growth.”

“Under normal conditions, my biggest melon could’ve topped out at 250 pounds,” he added.

But the prize of his patch never reached the scales. It weighted approximately 130 pounds when the stem of its vine split and caused its growth rate to decline.

“It was growing six pounds a day and its circumference was five inches ahead of anything I‘d grown up to that point,” Knight pointed out. “I got the seed from a 260-pound watermelon, which was grown in Michigan, and it was living up to its pedigree.”

Knight goal is to grow a watermelon bigger than the current national record of 282 pounds. And he’s already making plans for next year.

“I’ll plant mustard as a cover crop this fall and turn it under next spring,” he said. “Hopefully, it’ll prevent the fungus from reoccurring.”

Knight’s 190-lb melon will be on display at Morgan Farmers Co-Op in Decatur for a couple of weeks.

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