Pumpkin is the typical October vegetable. Pumpkins can be cooked in many different ways, and children love to carve them into jack-o-lanterns. But some pumpkin growers are not interested in recipes or in Halloween, but in giant pumpkin growing competitions. At these events, farmers compete to find out who has grown the largest, heaviest pumpkin. In the 70s, prize winning pumpkins weighed under 400 pounds. Today they weigh more than 2,000 pounds, as much as an adult rhinoceros!
Most competitions are held in North America where there is a long and popular tradition of growing giant pumpkins. One of the biggest events is the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off, held at Half Moon Bay, close to San Francisco, California. This year, a new North American record was set. Horticulturist Travis Gienger of Anoka, Minnesota, won the competition with a 2,560-pound pumpkin.
Growing giant pumpkins has become an agricultural art as well as a lucrative business. Mr Gienger received $23,040 in prize money (the prize was awarded in a “pay-by-the-pound” system, meaning that the winning pumpkin was paid $9 per pound). In addition, he will sell the seeds of his winning pumpkin to other farmers who wish to grow giant pumpkins. On a previous occasion, he sold the seeds of another prize-winning pumpkin for $175 each.
Mr Gienger’s pumpkin was the heaviest one ever grown in North America, but it didn’t break the world record. The heaviest pumpkin ever recorded weighed 2,703 pounds (1,226 kilogrammes) and was grown by Stefano Cutrupi from Italy in 2021.
1) What vegetables do you like to eat? How do you like them cooked? Are there any autumn vegetables, like pumpkin, that you particularly like? Write about your favourite vegetable dishes.
2) Have you ever carved a jack-o-lantern? Write about it and about your best Halloween experiences.