NASCAR driver discusses life at home on family’s watermelon farm


NASCAR driver discusses life at home on family’s watermelon farm

A twelfth-generation farmer and race car driver says his family focuses on growing watermelons.  Ross Chastain calls Florida home, and tells Brownfield for the last eight generations, it is the only crop they’ve grown… and the growing season starts early. “We’re putting our plants in the ground about the 5th of January. When most of the country is very cold and frozen, we’re transplanting small, very fragile watermelon plants from the greenhouse into the ground.”

He tells Brownfield it is about a 100-day growing season after plants go from the greenhouse to raised beds, and they use black plastic to retain heat and moisture near the plants. “We’re in south Florida, but we’re looking for sugar sand all across the country. Watermelon plants really don’t do well in clay. They really thrive in dryer, sandier soils.”

And, besides partnering with U.S. farmers as far north as Delaware and Kentucky, Chastain says they import watermelons from Mexico and Honduras to serve the market from late December through the beginning of March.

Chastain says the family operates about 800 acres with a ten-year rotation between watermelon crops to avoid crop diseases.

And where do all the watermelons go? “We do sell the number two’s to the small-time guys on the side of the road, but we only grow with the purpose of selling number one’s to chain stores.”

As far as balancing his NASCAR dreams with farm work, Chastain says whatever his father and his brother Chad need, he helps wherever he can. “I’m chasing being a race car driver and trying to make it in NASCAR, but when I go home, it’s low man on the totem pole. There’s no way around it and no way to sugar coat that!”

As for Chastain’s year in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, there have been no wins yet, but he is currently sixth in point standings with 14 top-five finishes and 25 top-ten’s.  He drives the #10 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevy Camaro for Kaulig Racing.

NASCAR driver Ross Chastain discusses farming and racing with Brownfield’s Larry Lee