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    Posted March 31, 2014 by
    ein yahav, Israel

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    Giant gourds tip scale at 40 kilos


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Ofir Auslander met with Israeli farmer Rami Sadeh to find out how he manages to grow giant gourds that weigh 40 kilos (88 pounds). Sadeh, who is also an agronomist, attributes the large size to his development process. “He cultivates varieties for several cycles of growth and continues to try to grow larger ones. His goal to be the only one who grows giant pumpkins,” said Auslander, who works in public relations for farmers and also for the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture. (Some people use the term pumpkins for all types of squash.) These photos show Sadeh and his family on their farm in Moshav Ein Yahav, Israel, this March.
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    Israeli farmer Rami Sadeh says there was no hocus-pocus involved when he and fellow agriculturist Shoni Gal grew headline-grabbing enormous pumpkins in the hothouses of Ein Yahav.


    The gigantic winter squashes, grown by the agricultural village’s produce company Yofi Shel Yerakot (Beauty of Vegetables), are the latest fruits to steer the world of agritech’s eyes to Israel’s desert.


    After all, it is in the Arava Desert that Israeli farmers grow the country’s largest percentage of produce exports including peppers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, melons, watermelons, table grapes, herbs and dates. The Arava growing season is 11 months of the year, and farmers use organic pest control.


    The pumpkins – weighing in at 40 kilograms and stretching to a meter long each – are actually for domestic use. Winter squashes are usually hollow but these new massive gourds are solid and are meant for being chopped up and sold in pieces.


    According to a press release from the Agriculture Ministry, each pumpkin will cost about $28 whole and are being sold to local wholesalers.


    Yofi Shel Yerakot has a record for jumbo fruits and veggies. They also grew last year’s world-record Godzilla bell pepper. The giant vegetable snagged a Guinness World Record when it grew to weigh 600 grams; the average bell pepper weighs 113 grams.


    The water is another reason for Israel’s desert agriculture successes.


    Sadeh says contrary to what one would think, there is actually “a lot of water” in the desert, though it’s brackish (salty). Research has shown that salty water produces sweeter produce.


    “It’s water from the ground, with salt in the water. And because the fruits and vegetables are in stress and need more water to grow, they grow bigger and even sweeter,”

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