By Betsy Finklea
Cedric Page has been crowned the Dillon County Tomato Contest Champion.
The announcement was made last week by Callen Outen of Clemson Extension.
Each contestant had four plants judged on general appearance, quality, color, disease and insect free, and total yield. Page’s tomatoes stood apart from the other contestants helping him secure the title of Dillon County Tomato Champion.
This was not Page’s first time in the contest. In 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he entered the contest only garnering an honorable mention.
This year, he used his tomato plants that he got from the Dillon County Health Initiative (DCHI) spring plant giveaway. He said these plants have actually done better than the ones he got from the store.
Page feels that the quality and quantity of his tomatoes is what set him apart gaining him the title. He said there were no quality defects on the fruit itself. As one can see in the photo, his plants are loaded with tomatoes.
In 2019, Page had a problem with fungi and disease affecting his tomatoes, but this year, he took the recommendation of Dillon High School Band Director Adrian Wright, and added calcium nitrate which is supposed to help deter fungi. Page feels that this could have been the changing point. He said the calcium nitrate helped keep his plants looking healthy and good.
Page is no stranger to gardening. From a young age, he worked in his mom’s garden planting all types of vegetables.
When asked what he thought the keys were to growing great tomatoes, Page listed the following: 1) Making sure there is good preparation for the soil. He said he used peat moss, top soil, and cow manure in his soil; 2) Having a good plant; 3) Keeping the plans watered when there isn’t much rain; and 4) Calcium Nitrate. Page also suggests trimming off the old leaves without fruit or blossoms to keep the plant using its energy on those that do have fruit.
Page said he really wants to encourage the community to get into gardening. He said it is a great stress reliever and growing your own fruits and vegetables will have a positive effect on your health.
According to Outen, the Tomato Contest winners are:
1st Place: Cedric Page
2nd Place: Andy Wallace
3rd Place: Chelsea Hughes
4th Place: Thomas McRae
5th Place: Donna Sellers
6th Place: Teresa Brown
7th Place: Wayne McRae
Outen said while there was no banquet this year, they plan to resume the normal tomato contest activities next year.