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Watermelon season huge success in Gilchrist and Levy Counties

Watermelon growers in Gilchrist and Levy Counties were pleased with the outcome of the 2020 watermelon season. Longtime growers received record prices this year with some growers selling melons for .25 cents per pound, it was reported that some even sold for .28 cents a pound. The watermelon yield this year was good in this area. This is the most watermelons have ever sold for in this area of Florida according to growers.
Those living in Gilchrist and Levy Counties are living in the heart of Florida watermelon country. Gilchrist and Levy growers produce more watermelons than any other area of the state.
Terry Parrish, Clifton Seed Company Sales Representative for North Florida, said that growers in the area plant mostly Captivation and Troubadour watermelons.
Last year America exported $115.3 million dollars worth of watermelons.
Terry Parrish of Trenton along with L&J Farms grew these big melons in the picture above, top row, which weighed from 50 to 80 pounds. Loran Brookins of Chiefland grew the three watermelons on the bottom step that weighted in at 80, 60 and 52 pounds. Parrish and Brookins have raised giant melons to enter into the annual Chiefland Watermelon Festival for a few years now. Before Brookins and Parrish started growing giant melons Brookins’ father, Thomas Brookins of Chiefland, and Parrish’s brother, Johnny Parrish, grew big melons to compete in the Chiefland Watermelon Festival’s Largest Melon Contest for many years before they started to grow them. This year’s 66th annual festival was cancelled because of COVID 19. Parrish and Brookins chose to meet up at the Trenton Depot on Wednesday, June 24, to see who had grown the largest melons. Brookins won the long standing, good natured, rivalry this year.
Before watermelons were shipped by trucks out of the area to markets in the North, they were shipped by rail. The historic Trenton Depot was where many melons were loaded into boxcars to be shipped north from Gilchrist County for many years.