1,731 pound pumpkin breaks state record in Extreme Gardening Superbowl

LEHI, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) -Mountain Green resident, Matt McConkie was smiling wide Saturday afternoon as he broke the State Record at the Utah Giant Pumpkin Grower's weigh-off at Thanksgiving Point. Measuring in at 1,731 pounds, this massive behemoth eclipsed his previous record of 1600 pounds in 2011.

Gigantic pumpkin gardening is a growing obsession for many families who brought their largest specimens to the scales under torrential rains. Forty-five heavyweights from Utah and Idaho were ranked to determine the biggest in 2014. An enthusiastic crowd cheered as scales revealed each official weight. After 25 years of competitions, Utah is now being recognized as a top growing area, with more monsters hitting the scales than anywhere else.

Good seed, good soil, hard work and luck all contribute to massive fruit size. Gardeners add tons of organic matter to the soil, battle bugs and diseases, in addition to taking measures to make their plants comfortable in Utah's harsh climate. Shade cloth, greenhouses and misting systems are used by top competitors, in addition to automatic watering and feeding systems. Some growers even sing to their pumpkins as they tuck them under blankets each evening. Under the right conditions, some fruits can gain 50 pounds each day, making it exciting to measure their daily progress.

McConkie commented, “Win or lose... it is fun to grow them.”
Matt's pumpkin smashed his previous state record by 131 pounds and came in 10% heavier than estimated. McConkie also claimed state records in 2010 and 2011.

Six other Utah pumpkins weighed in at over 1000 pounds this year.

Specimens with cracks or soft spots are disqualified from official rankings.

What do growers do with super-sized produce? Beyond elaborate Halloween carving, community outreach is a big part of Utah's Giant Pumpkin Growers. They bring their prize pumpkins to a number of events for educational and charitable purposes. Some giants were donated to a recent Road Home fundraiser while others will be used to feed zoo animals at Hogle Zoo's “Feast with the Beast.” Hee Haw Farms will raise funds for the March of Dimes October 25th as part of their 6th annual Ginormous Pumpkin Drop.

Spectators can also look forward to the annual Pumpkin Regatta at Sugar House Park Pond October 18th. Growers wearing costumes will carve pumpkins into watercraft and race to break a new speed record.

This summer, Kyle Fox, President of the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers, along with friends and family, rode the the Colorado River rapids near Moab in a pumpkin. One fruit grew too fast and developed a crack, preventing it from being part of the Thanksgiving Point event.

For more information visit: www.utahpumpkingrowers.com.


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