STEWART KNOWITALL: How big can pumpkins grow?
Stewart Knowitall is the Pioneer’s go-to guy for answers on any subject. With his vast network of educated professionals, Stewart will help answer the questions confounding the minds of our younger readers. Look for the answers he finds to questions from third graders across Osceola County once each month. If you have a question for Stewart Knowitall, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gavin asks: " How big can pumpkins grow?"
ANSWER: The simple answer is; really big, provided you think that a pumpkin weighing in at over one ton is really big.
We all are used to seeing several kinds of pumpkins at the produce stands, farms, and stores — pie pumpkins and jack-o-lantern (or decorating) pumpkins. A pie pumpkin might weigh around 5 pounds and a jack-o-lantern pumpkin anywhere from 10 pounds up to 50 pounds. Giant pumpkins are not good for pies or for yummy roasted seeds, but you can carve them with a good-sized saw. A chain saw works well. Really. They are simply humongous (really, really big)!
I mentioned that a pumpkin can weigh more than one ton. Everyone that I know considers a ton to be a very, very heavy weight. Well, a ton is 2,000 pounds, which is about what two regular-sized horses, four snowmobiles, or five dolphins weigh. In fact, the world-record pumpkin weighs 2,032 pounds, and Mr. Tim Mathison grew it in California. He proved it at the giant-pumpkin weigh off in Morgan Hill, Calif. on Oct. 12, 2013. A weigh-off is a contest where all the giant pumpkin growers in a particular area get together on a Saturday in the fall and compete to determine who grew the biggest giant pumpkin. Ken Sweet grew the record pumpkin in Michigan, and he proved it at a weigh-off in Dundee in 2010. His pumpkin weighed 1,725 pounds.
There are giant pumpkin weigh-offs all over the U.S. and in many countries, which use very precise rules about what pumpkins qualify for the weigh-off, how they are weighed, and who does the weighing. A grower in Switzerland grew a pumpkin that was even bigger than Mr. Mathison’s, almost 2,400 pounds, but it was disqualified at the Switzerland weigh-off because it had a hole in it, which is not allowed.
I don’t believe that Mr. Mathsion will hold the world record for very long. Back in the year 2000 the world record was just a little over 1,000 pounds, and almost every year since, the world record has been broken. The 2014 weigh-offs are happening right now, and I am anxious to see the results. Some of the champion growers I know believe that in the next few years likely we will see a world record giant pumpkin topping 3,000 pounds. That’s the weight of a small car!
It is difficult to grow giant pumpkins; not many 1,000 pound pumpkins have been grown let alone a giant 2,000 pounder. You must use special giant pumpkin seeds and spend a lot of time babying them, which is surprising when you consider how massive the giant pumpkin plants and pumpkins are. My friends and I are getting close to growing a 1,000 pounder and are hoping we break that barrier in the next year or two. I can’t wait.
If you would like to learn more about giant pumpkins, go to bigpumpkins.com. That is where I keep track of who is growing the biggest pumpkins, and is what I used to find out about the current world record. You can pick up some growing tips there, too.
Hon. Scott Hill-Kennedy Giant pumpkin enthusiast and grower
Scott Hill-Kennedy is a judge for the 49th Circuit Court, 77th District Court and Mecosta/Osceola County Probate Court in Michigan