The Great Pumpkin

Competitive vegetable growers are closing in on an elusive goal—the one ton squash

Prize pumpkins have tripled in size in the past three decades. Tim Parks, of the Ohio Valley growers club, harvests his 2010 contender. (Greg Ruffing / Redux)
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Under a gray sky, Werner’s pumpkin sat next to Jerry Rose’s, which sat next to Parks’, and there was Dave Stelts’ mottled green beast, his only survivor of a tough season. They were lined up based on their circumferences, but the number-four pumpkin—a 1,663-pound globe brought by a dark horse Ohio grower named Jeff Zoellner—earned the top prize. “I was worried about Tim and Jerry,” said Werner, who came in second. “I wasn’t expecting this at all.”

Overall, officials weighed 63 pumpkins, and at the end of the day Ohio Valley remained the heaviest site in the world, with its top ten pumpkins averaging 1,490.2 pounds.

Quinn Werner was already thinking about the pumpkins he would grow next year.

Brendan Borrell has written about chili peppers and cassowaries for Smithsonian. Greg Ruffing lives in Chicago.


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