Pumpkin Growing Champion Tries to Beat His Own Record

September 22, 2017 08:09 AM
 
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A Utah man who's loved giant pumpkins since childhood is trying to set a state record for the second time with a nearly 2,000-pound (907-kilogram) gourd he's been tending with scientific precision.

Matt McConkie, 29, said the pumpkin he's growing for Saturday's 12th Annual Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers Weigh Off should beat his own state record set in 2014 — a pumpkin weighing 1,817 pounds (824 kilograms), the Salt Lake Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/2flCL5g ).

McConkie, a real estate broker, said he started competitively growing pumpkins nine years ago. He bought a patch in South Ogden and started studying the craft.

"It goes as far back as I can remember," McConkie said. "I saw them as a kid, and they always put a giant smile on my face. I knew I wanted to grow giant pumpkins before I even knew it was really a thing."

He will use an all-terrain lift, forklifts and a flatbed trailer to get the pumpkin to the weigh off. He called the process "nerve-wracking."

McConkie said growing a giant pumpkin is a science. He thought he had a big one at 286 pounds (130 kilograms), but his current pumpkin grew about 50 pounds (23 kilograms) a day during its peak growth. He said most pumpkins will grow for about 100 days, though this one grew for 115 days.

He takes soil samples in the spring and sends them to a lab to see what nutrition is lacking. Then he gets deliveries of a special compost of wood shavings with cow manure that provides most nutrition for the pumpkins.

"I bring it in by the dump truck," he said.

McConkie said his goal each year is to grown a bigger pumpkin.

"I just love doing it," he said. "I love being out there in the soil, working, coming up with a strategy and plan, being out in the sun. I love everything about it."

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