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Giant Pumpkins HOW FARMERS GROW THOSE
adding sand, and other specific cultivation techniques give the pumpkin a fighting chance to grow into a monster. But, in the end, there’s an element of luck. The competitive growing industry is getting bigger (pun intended). In 1979, the largest pumpkin on record was 438 pounds. Since 2008, the world record has been broken every year. The reigning heavyweight champion was grown in Germany last year, weighing in at 2,623 pounds. That’s the weight of a 2018 Toyota Yaris or 1,748 standard pumpkin pies. The local Art & Pumpkin Festival is gunning for the record this year, hoping superstar grower Cindy Tobeck’s able to best her previous record of 1,910 pounds. If you’re looking to see one of these orange behemoths in person, head on down to the Festival on October 14 and 15! Admissions is totally free, and it’s sure to be a blast.
Growing these monstrous fruits (yes, they are technically fruits) is kind of like breeding a racehorse. It takes practice, cultivation, and even good genes. Competitive growers will often purchase the seeds of the previous year’s champions for their plant. After preparing the soil to make it extra fertile, they’ll plant the pumpkin in late winter or early spring. Before the gourd starts growing, flowers on the plant need to be pollinated. Farmers will usually take it upon themselves to pollinate, using pollen from plants with proven genetic lines. Winning pumpkins usually claim their “father” plant and “mother” seed, like racehorses. Growing a great pumpkin is practically a full-time job, with some farmers reporting spending 40 hours a week on it. Using heated soil, installing fences to reduce wind,
Forklifts and cranes may be used mainly for construction work, but every fall, thousands of backyard gardeners use them as gardening tools — or rather, harvesting tools — for their largest single crop. Massive pumpkins aren’t practical, but as anybody who’s been to our own Half Moon Bay’s annual Art & Pumpkin Festival will tell you, they sure are impressive! Even though the festival offers a $30,000 prize
if participants are able to break the pumpkin world
record right here in California, farmers aren’t in it for the money. They’re in it for the glory.
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