Good Question: How Do Pumpkins Grow So Big?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Chris Qualley’s pumpkin weighed in at more than 1,900 pounds at the Stillwater Harvest Fest last weekend.

That beat the previous state record pumpkin, which came in at about 1,890 pounds.

That got us wondering: How do pumpkins grow so big?

“I used to be a big golfer actually,” Qualley said.

John Lauritsen atop Chris Qualley's record-setting pumpkin (credit: CBS)

John Lauritsen atop Chris Qualley’s record-setting pumpkin (credit: CBS)

He went from the golf course to the garden, planting “Atlantic Giant” pumpkin seeds this spring after making sure his soil had the right pH balance and the right amount of nutrients.

“It takes a lot of water, basically it [gets] 100 gallons a day,” he said.

Qualley made sure the plants were covered during the spring. As the weather warmed up, he literally spent hours each day watering, burying the vines and adding nutrients to the soil.

“I added alfalfa meal, blood meal, bone meal,” Qualley said. “This one was putting on, a couple days it put on over 60 pounds, which isn’t normal, wthat’s why it got a very big size.”

It grew to 1,918.5 pounds to be exact — and it is nearly indestructible.

“The thick spot right here is — I mean, you’re looking at over a foot thick,” he said. “When you wrap a tape measure around it for the circumference, it was 17 feet, 8 inches.”

But overall, Qualley says the loamy soil has helped him grow not just championship pumpkins, but other vegetables as well.

“I’m going to go for over 2,000. I want to have the ton mark next year,” Qualley said.

Some of the other nutrients farmers use to help their pumpkins grow are seaweed, fish powder and humic acid. Qualley has already ordered fertilizer for next spring.

He had to use a hoist to lift his record-setting pumpkin onto a snowmobile trailer. It will be on display for the Monster Dash later this month.

Qualley credits the previous state record holder, Scott Steil, for giving him the advice he needed to grow his giant pumpkin.

More from John Lauritsen

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