Tons of Pumpkin Fun

14 Oct

With Halloween and  Thanksgiving closing in,  the talk has turn to that venerable symbol of Autumn– the   pumpkin. Chris Stevens from New Richmond, Wisconsin currently holds the world’s record  for pumpkin growing with his 1,810.5 pound pumpkin. His pumpkin weighs more than the Smart Car. Steven took the  pumpkin title at last years Stillwater Wisconsin Festival . Growers are getting closer to that holy grail of  Pumkindom  the one-ton pumpkin- a squash bigger than a Killer Whale. Such a pumpkin could make a Jack O’ Lantern that could double as a summer cabin.

The word pumpkin is derived from the  Greek for “large melon”. The French called them   pompons. The British altered this  to pumpions in the American Colonies they were called simply “pumpkins”.    Pumpkin-like  seeds that are over nine thousand years old have been in Mexico.

Pumpkins are often included in the squash family and have also been seen as one type of vegetable marrow.

            In American over  1.5 billion pounds   of pumpkins are produced annually with Illinois and Indiana producing the most.  Pumpkins have  both male and female flowers on the same plant and hoiney bees are important  to provide pollination. The USDA recommends one bee hiove per acre of pumpkins.   The traditional American pumpkin is the Connecticut Field variety but the largest pumpkins are Cucurbita maxima. They were cross bred  from a  squash genotype,and the kabocha-pumpkin types in the1800’ s. The most popular pumpkin type today among competitive growers is called  the Atlantic Giant.   The 500 pound barrier was broken in  1981, by Howard Dill  of Nova Scotia and by 1994, the   the 1,000-pound mark was exceeded.

                They are approximately 80 competitive pumpkin festivals held each year around the  country. In some of these the cash prize  is based on the weight of the pumpkin. One contest in California pays 6 dollars a pound to the winner, so a one-ton pumpkin would net $12,000.  By the way the Smart Car cost about 8 dollar a pound.

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