Ag Dept Suffers HEAVY Losses

By Cathy Hoyt

Heavy losses? Did I say HEAVY? Actually not heavy enough! The Ag Dept recently entered their prize Dill's Atlantic Giant Pumpkin specimen in the Oktoberfest pumpkin weigh-off, Saturday, October 12th, held at Rainbow Agricultural Supply. It's official weight was 105.5 lbs. Not bad sounding, until you look around at the competition. Ag student, Sher Patton, grew her own giant, weighing in at 160 lbs. Way to go Sher! That's the way to put your knowledge to work! This was the first attempt by both Sher and the present Ag Dept staff at producing these monoliths. The excitement built as more pumpkins arrived between 9:00 am and 12:00 noon. Some were very nicely shaped and colored. Some were almost grotesque, looking like they belonged in a fairy tale rather than real life. Dill's Atlantic Giants are actually more gourd than true pumpkin, ranging in color from greenish cream to pinkish orange. As it happened, there were many entries in the two to three hundred pound range leaving our hopes of prize winning in the basement. Well, you have to start somewhere and now we have a benchmark for future entries. Part of the fun, however, is seeing how many people it takes to get the pumpkins into the scale! Okay, okay, enough suspense. You of course want to know how much the absolute biggest pumpkin weighed. . . an astounding 637.5 lbs! It was grown by the Gowan clan. Boy do they know their stuff! (They took second place as well, with a pumpkin well over 500 lbs. . .)

The Dill's pumpkin variety was originated/perfected by the Dill family a number of years ago. Howard Dill held the record from 1979 to 1983. They now concentrate on breeding seed and sponsoring the worldwide weigh-in from their headquarters in Nova Scotia. Using video and phone links, they conduct a simultaneous weigh-in at several locations around the globe. California heavyweights link up at the Nut Tree in Walnut Creek. This procedure allows the privilege of not only knowing that you have a big one, but that you have the biggest pumpkin in the world.

Everything seems to have a ceiling or a limit that appears unbreakable (the stock market and the mile-run, to name a few.) The barrier to break in pumpkins is the 1000 lb mark. The world record stands at slightly less than that, 990 lbs. Although every competitor has their secret method, manure seems to be the key ingredient to success. From the few growers I've talked to, it sounds like the recipe for greatness is about one wheelbarrow load per hundred pounds of 'body' weight.

Well, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Yes, we'll see what we can come up with next year (volunteers for double-digging and manure shoveling can sign up out at the Ag Dept!) If you want in on the fun for your own garden, stop by the Spring Sale next year and pick up a Dill's Atlantic Giant pumpkin plant-they're 'Grown with Class'. . .

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