New Richmond pumpkin shatters world recordChris Stevens of New Richmond has broken the world record for the largest pumpkin ever grown.
Chris Stevens of New Richmond has broken the world record for the largest pumpkin ever grown.
He delivered his huge pumpkin to the second annual Stillwater, Minn. Harvest Fest on Saturday for an official weigh-in. His pumpkin made it to the scale at about 2 p.m.
When the official weight was announced, 1,810.5 pounds, a huge cheer rose from the gathered crowd. Stevens pumped his fists into the air. His fellow pumpkin growers offered him high-fives and congratulatory handshakes.
Stevens’ pumpkin was significantly larger that the previous world record pumpkin of 1,725 pounds grown in Ohio in 2009. Another pumpkin tied that world record earlier this year.
Standing nearby at the Stillwater event was friend John Hopkins, who grew a 1,675-pound monster of his own. Hopkins and Stevens work cooperatively together to grow the huge pumpkins. They did well last year, but this year’s crop was even better.
“We got lucky with a couple good seeds,” Stevens said of the record-setting harvest. “Plus, we know what we’re doing.”
The warmer weather this summer, along with the proper care of the pumpkins during the season, helped to push the weights higher, he said.
During the biggest growing days of the summer, Stevens estimated that his record setter was adding 38 pounds a day to its weight. The pumpkins usually stop adding a lot of weight around Sept. 1.
Stevens, who has been growing large pumpkins since 2006, said he’d hoped that his pumpkin would break the record, but he was never certain. He was visibly nervous until the official weight was announced.
“So many things could go wrong where you get disqualified,” he said. “You’re on pins and needles until it’s on the scale. It’s tough.”
A small hole in the pumpkin or a crack can eliminate it from consideration for a competition or for official records.
Stevens, along with several other local pumpkin enthusiasts, have been striving for the big one for years. This year’s record breaker will likely catch the attention of the Guinness Book of World Records.
Hopkins’ giant pumpkin held the Wisconsin state record for about a week. His 1,675-pound pumpkin was weighed at Nekoosa Giant Pumpkin Fest earlier in October but was knocked to second place once Stevens’ pumpkin was officially weighed.
Hopkins did win a prestigious honor, following the weigh-in for another pumpkin Saturday. He’s one of just five pumpkin growers to produce three pumpkins in one season with the combined weight of 4,500 pounds or more.
Stevens grew three pumpkins this summer with a combined weight of 4,800 pounds or more. Only one other grower has achieved that goal in the history of the hobby.
“It’s an elite club,” Stevens commented.
The local pumpkin growers are getting a fair amount of international attention for their feats.
Stevens and Hopkins will be flying to New York next week to appear on one or more television shows, although they aren’t yet sure which programs they will appear on. Their pumpkins will be accompanying them. The top three pumpkin growers in the nation will be featured on the talk shows or late night shows. Hopkins’ pumpkin was the third largest pumpkin grown this year.
Stevens has also been interviewed by several radio and television stations in Wisconsin, and by several newspapers, due to his new record. He expects even more media attention in the coming days as the news gets out.
Also, Stevens is getting a new e-mail message every minute and numerous telephone calls from growers across the nation, offering their congratulations and asking if they can get their hands on seeds from the huge pumpkin.
“I’ve gotten over 100 requests for the seed already,” he said. “And things are just starting to heat up.”
Like most growers, Stevens said he plans to donate the pumpkin’s seeds to the St. Croix Valley Growers Association, of which he is a member. The sale of the seed then helps fund the association’s efforts.
Estimated cost for one seed from the pumpkin, Steven said, is about $750. The seeds are typically sold via Internet auctions in pumpkin grower chat rooms.
“It’s probably going to be the most valuable seed ever,” he guessed. “It’s pretty crazy.”
Hopkins started growing pumpkins three years ago as a hobby, and for a few days he held the state record for the largest pumpkin.
“It’s a lot of work and we have to babysit them, but it’s a fun hobby,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins grows six Atlantic Giant pumpkins each year. That’s one pumpkin per 25-foot-by-25-foot plant, he said.
This year one of those pumpkins weighed in at 1,675 pounds at the Nekoosa Giant Pumpkin Fest.
The seeds are planted May 1 and stay in a hot house until June 1.
The vines are trained to go in one direction and the secondary vines are buried. The plants are cross-pollinated by hand and when the plant starts to blossom, one is chosen to continue — usually based on the distance it is from the main plant. The rest of the blossoms are cut from the plant.
“I ended up with four good sized pumpkins this year,” Hopkins said. He loses some of his pumpkins to rot, a common problem with giant pumpkins, he said.
When Hopkins traveled to Nekoosa in early October, he thought he was hauling a 1,590 pound pumpkin. He was pretty surprised when the scales topped out at 1,675 pounds — 106 pounds more than the state record.
“I beat it by quite a bit,” he said with a laugh. “It was a surprise and fun at the time.”
Producers can estimate the weight of their pumpkins based on three measurements taken before the contest, Hopkins said.
“We have a chart to help give us an idea of what they weigh,” he said. “But you never know until you get there.”
The Stillwater competition was Hopkins’ third and final competition of the season, he said. Other than the Nekoosa competition, Hopkins also traveled to Chicago, he said.
Giant pumpkins can be entered in only one competition per season, Hopkins said. He said he purposely chose to keep his largest pumpkin for the Nekoosa competition.
“I knew it was the biggest and I wanted to bring it to Nekoosa because it’s a Wisconsin competition,” he said. “It’s the biggest (competition) in the area.”
As a prize, Hopkins was awarded $2,000 and a year with the Nekoosa giant traveling trophy, he said.