Pumpkins aren’t just for kids anymore. Meticulous farmers throughout the country have become practically obsessive about growing giant pumpkins for regional and national contests. They belong to clubs that not only share information and camaraderie, but require “seed dues” to support their activities to “grow the big one”. Contestants fret all year – even emailing colleagues in the middle of the night – with high hopes for the winning gourd, prize money (small), and bragging rights (huge).
This year, the bragging rights belong to Quinn Werner, a customer of Dan Kamburoff’s Columbus Irrigation in Ohio, who uses Toro Aqua-Traxx® drip tape. Over 500’ of drip tape enveloped the giant 30’ x 30’ vine, in a closely spaced grid pattern, to supply just the right amount of moisture to gain size but without splitting on the way to greatness. The winner weighed in at 209 pounds, a new world record for traditional, “true” carving pumpkins.
Perhaps even more impressive is the new world record that was set this year in the category of “Orange Squash” Atlantic Giant Pumpkins. Ron Wallace of Rhode Island bought the right seed, gave it the right treatment, germinated it under controlled conditions, and then meticulously transplanted it to the field with solar orientation such that the vine would grow directly opposite from the 1st true leaf. The result: a whopping 2,009 pound giant, the largest ever grown. For those that must know, the seed that grew this winning Jack was a result of crossing “Harp 1725” seed with “Miller 1409” pollen. The seeds inside this year’s winning pumpkin will be in great demand and will be named, as you might have guessed, “Wallace 2009” (for the weight, not the year).
Giant pumpkin growers make a little dough from this avocation, but when pressed, they’ll fess up that money really isn’t the point. What’s important are the bragging rights, adulation at pumpkin festival parades, guest appearances at York City early morning shows, and – in the case of world records - a new Ford Pickup.
So, congrats to this year’s winners, Quinn Werner and Ron Wallace, and good luck in future years!