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Gourd grower claims state record, Spring Hope weigh-off ribbon

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SIMS — All three of H.C. Williams’ bushel gourds won first place in every weigh-off in which they competed. 

The largest, a 279-pounder, earned the first-place ribbon at last month’s Great Pumpkin Commonweath weigh-off in Spring Hope.

Williams is owner of the Williams Plant Farm in northwest Wilson County off Neverson Road west of Sims.

That gourd, deemed to be the state record-holder, and the two smaller gourds, a 225-pounder and a 167-pounder, all came off the same vine.

“It’s about 700 square feet of vine and probably about 30 or 36 inches deep, and it was just a real, real vigorous plant,” Williams said. “Right now it’s growing 6 or 8 foot all the way around the greenhouse where it was grown.”

“I had to do a lot of pruning to keep it in the greenhouse,” Williams added. “We didn’t want it to get too big. The bigger the vine, the more culls you have got to cut off, so I didn’t want to do too much of that.”

Williams plans to plant more seeds from the same variety next year, but his plan is to cut all the gourds off but one and hope it grows into a giant.

“A fellow in Massachusetts grew one this year that weighed 470 pounds,” Williams said.

Williams thinks he has a chance to get there if he does everything just right.

“They naturally grow big anyway,” Williams said.

Williams gave the vine plenty of care with proper watering and fertilizer and worked to control insects and disease.

Williams’ wife, Bettie, said her husband is already well known for his giant pumpkins and watermelons.

“He was really a giant watermelon grower. His biggest watermelon was 265 ponds,” Bettie Williams said proudly. “He’s one of the few people in North Carolina that’s had a pumpkin over 1,000 pounds.”

“1,024,” H.C. Williams clarified.

Williams has plans for the biggest of the gourds.

“I’m going to cut the bottom out and take the seed out,” Williams said. “We’re going to clean it out completely, let it dry. It takes a long time to dry them off because it is so dense inside. It’s going to be a job to get all that stuff out of there, all the seed and the pulp. Then we are going to paint it orange and put it on the front porch next year and let it look like a pumpkin.”