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.