Saturday, March 28, 2015

Some Great Tips from a World Record Pumpkin Grower

Want to read pumpkin growing tips from the only two time world record holder?  Some great fertilizing ideas can be found here.

Had a good time at the RMGVG club meeting today.  A big thanks to the Wiz for 15 lbs of mykos for the patch!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Has Sprung in the Pumpkin Patch

Its time to get busy again in the pumpkin patch.  76 degrees in Denver today and a month from now I'll have pumpkin plants under the lights.  This week I sent a soil sample in to get my soil tested. Unless you know what you have in your soil, you don't know what to add to it.  I hope to have the test results back the first of next week.

This last week I started some pots with ProMix BX, mykos, myco grow, Rootshield, Actinovate and Azos in each pot.  I plants some sorghum sudan grass and a pumpkin seed in each pot.  I learned a few years back that it takes about 3 months for the myco to mature enough to be a benefit to the pumpkin plants.  By getting the myco going a month early in these pots I hope to get more results from them earlier on in the season.  Each of these pots at seed starting time I'll take and put some of soil in my planting pots next month to inoculate the roots of my actual plants I'll use this season.

I'm happy to announce that I've been chosen to be on the Varsity Squad of Team NPK.   Team NPK is part of www.NPK-Industries.com and www.RAW-solubles.com.  They offer some great products and seminars.  Check out their websites if you haven't already.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Time to Get Giant Pumpkin Seeds & Growing Supplies

Spring is in the air in Colorado right now.  It is supposed to be just over 70 on Sunday.  We'll still see some snow from time to time for the next two months.  But it reminds you that pumpkin season is almost upon us.  Get your competition giant pumpkin seeds now.  Seed starting time is around tax time if you will be starting your seeds indoors.  Also, now is the time to get DVDs to brush up on your growing skills and plan for the upcoming season.  Also, in the next couple of weeks, it would be a good time to send a soil sample to lab to get it tested.  Unless you know what you soil has in it you won't know what to amend your soil with this spring to make sure your soil is balanced and world-class.  70-80% of what will determine how big your pumpkin will grow will be in that soil so make sure it is near perfect.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Giant Pumpkin Growing: A Year Around Hobby

Was out in the pumpkin patch this fine January evening forking in some peat moss.  The last of the good weather for awhile, but we had some uncommonly warm temps this last week and the patch had finally dried out enough and I had a moment to get away from work at 5:30 this evening to turn the soil.  I want to get my organic matter a little higher and peat moss is a good way to do it.  Peat moss is a good way to break up our Colorado soils and help it breath a little better.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Next Season's Pumpkin Seeds: A Remake of Great Genetics

I've finally landed on what seeds I'm going to grow next season.  This year I'm growing all white, which is a first.  To me the seeds are just too good to not plant them.  I'll be growing a 282 Scherber and a 1415 Scherber.  Basically they are pretty much the same seed.  The 282 is a selfed clone of the plant that grew the world record 2,009 pound pumpkin.  The 1415 is a selfed 282 seed that probably would have ended up as a new Colorado state record but the pumpkin went down a few weeks prior to the weigh-off.

I plan on selfing the 1415 seed which would make it a fourth generation selfed seed.  The 1725 world record came from a selfed 1385 seed.  The 282 seed was a selfed seed.  And then the 1415 was a selfed 282 seed.  So far this line has done very, very well and I'd like to keep those genetics going.

The cross I'm even more excited about is crossing the 282 seed with a 1409 Miller.  The last two world record pumpkins came from a 2009 Wallace seed.  The 2009 Wallace is a cross of a 1725 Harp x 1409 Miller. The 282 seed is a selfed clone of that same 1725 Harp.  In a sense this is as close to a remake as someone could get.  My son and daughter are both going to grow 1409 Millers (thanks to the kind growers who got me the seeds over the Christmas break!) and I'm going to cross and reverse cross the 282 and 1415 plants with the 1409 plants every which way I can and then hope one of them works out as well as the 2009 Wallace seed has done.

Rise of the Giants & the Heart of Pumpkin Growing

I went on vacation this last weekend and took on the flight with me my copy of the Rise of the Giants movie.  I personally really enjoyed this documentary.  I know or have talked with a lot of the growers in the film and it was fun to see them all.  Also fun to see a few and hear the stories of some of the growers that I don't know much about.

If you want to learn how to grow a giant pumpkin this probably isn't the ideal film.  If you want to understand the culture in giant pumpkin growing and what motivates many of these growers then this will be an enjoyable 1 1/2 hours for you.  The movie isn't technical.  It covers the basics, but also gets into the comradery, passion and motivation for growers.  Also gets into some of the heartache and pain of being a giant pumpkin grower.

Almost all giant pumpkin growers are a little strange.  You have to be a little crazy to be dedicated to a giant fruit.  But at the same time giant pumpkin growers are some of nicest people you could meet if you follow the rules of the community.  There are a number of unwritten rules of etiquette in giant pumpkin growing.  Most are common sense but others have evolved with time and are expected to be followed to the letter in some cases.  Regardless of all of that this movie seems to try to get at the heart of pumpkin growing and probably has done the best job of any film to date. 

You can learn more about the movie at riseofthegiantsmovie.com.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Look What Santa Brought Me

One thing I've always felt a little in the dark on was with what I should be feeding my plants during the season.  I of course do a soil test at the beginning of the season so I know what I have in the season, but as the season goes on I don't know if my nitrogen is falling off  or other nutrients which is causing me to lose pounds.

One partial solution to this problem is my new EC tester.  With it I'll be able to tell if my nutrients are dropping off and if I need to add some fertilizer.  I won't know exactly know from the EC test what I need, but in all likelihood it will be nitrogen and so I can feed the plant as it needs it to keep it in an optimible zone.

After talking to a couple growers that have grown pumpkins over 1,900 pounds I realize that I need to do a better job with my feeding program to take the pumpkins to the next level.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Things I'll Be Doing Different in 2015

Today at the RMGVG club meeting one of the growers asked me, "What will you be doing different next year."  My quick reply was, "Try to get a full-sized pumpkin to the scale."

The longer answer is that I've thought about that a lot since losing both plants in August.  The following is the strategy for next season:
  1. More testing.  I going to get an EC soil tester so I can have a better idea of what is in my soil so I can more accurately feed the plant. I've known for years that my fertilizing in the past has been a guess.  I've always done soil tests and the last two years did a tissue test.  But even with that I've not been sure if I've been under feeding or over feeding (probably under feeding from the research I've been doing).  I didn't even know that an EC tester existed until Beni talked about it after popping a big one the season before last.  It will take a little work to figure out how to best use the results, but at least I'll have some numbers to work from.
  2. Grow white.  I love an orange pumpkin but I also grow big.  As I looked at orange genetics there isn't a ton of seeds that I can get my hands on that grab my interest.  Big right now comes from the 2009 genetics and most of those crosses are coming out white to light orange.  This next season I'm going to grow a 282 Scherber and a 1415 Scherber.  The 282 is a clone of the plant that grow the 2009 crossed with itself.  The 1415 is a 282 that was selfed.  The genetics are just to good to grow orange.
  3. A little more late season fertilizer.  I don't get great growth in September, so if the EC tester shows it, I will feed the plants more the 2nd half of the season.
  4. A little higher organic matter.  I want more organic matter in my soil.  Not a ton but a few percentages higher than I've had in the past.  Some of that will be coming from peat moss.
  5. More moisture testing.  I have an inexpensive soil moisture testing so I'm going to do less eye balling and more testing.
  6.  More biologicals.  I'm going to be adding Rootshield to the other biologicals I put down and will use more mykos this season as well.
  7. Zucchini Plants.  I'm going to plant zucchini plants at the edge of the patch to attract squash bugs to in the hopes of getting rid of them before they get to the pumpkin plants.
  8. Layout of the patch.  For the last 5 years I've grown each my plants parallel to each other.  This next season I'll be growing the plants perpendicular to each other. This will give me about an extra 60-80 square feet of space and will give me more room for the main vine to grow on north side plant.
Hopefully

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Kingly Line of Giant Pumpkin Genetics

For years I've noticed something and pretty much have only grown seeds from what I would cal the "Kingly Line" of giant pumpkin seeds.  In 2005 Joe Pukos made a cross of seeds from the two biggest pumpkins the year before.  What he ended up with wasn't overly impressive but he had some interesting genetics in that cross.  Two years later Joe Jutras grew the world record 1689 pumpkin.  With that world record plant he pollinated a 1068 Wallace and that pumpkin was on pace to grow as big as the world record pumpkin until he lost that pumpkin at 1385 pounds in the middle, late part of the season.  From the 1385 Jutras was grown the famous 1725 Harp world record pumpkin.  The seed of that pumpkin is now a legend.

In Kristy Harps world record year I emailed with she and her husband Nick.  Two very nice people and I got to meet them that following winter in Niagara and got to hear Kristy talk about her world record pumpkin.  From Kristy's words it was apparent that the seed that grew the 1725 was something special.  With all due respect to Kristy, you could tell it was more the seed than the grower that produced that massive pumpkin.  She herself said at the seminar, "I'm not a heavy hitter." Which seemed kind of funny at the time because she was in a room with the best growers in the world declaring that she wasn't anything special but at the same time she had grown something bigger than anyone had ever come close to before.  She knew she had grown something special.

That next year I grew the 1236 Harp which was pollinated by the world record plant.  However, the 1236 didn't grow but one descent sized pumpkin that year and I ended up with an 800+ pound pumpkin.  That seed didn't get the Kingly Line.  What Kristy had done in her world record season was self pollinate or in other world pollinate the female flower with a male flower from the same plant and that turned out to be genius.  She was criticize by some for doing it at the time.  In the sport selfed pumpkins where definitely looked down upon at the time.  Nobody would be criticizing her after the next few seasons however.

The next couple of seasons produced world record pumpkins, but they weren't from the Kingly Line.  Which brings up a good point.  There are probably hundreds of seeds each year that don't get planted or don't reach their potential that have world record genetics in them.  The simple fact is that there are too many seeds produced to ever get planted and not enough plots.

Three seasons after Kristy's world record year Ron Wallace grew a 1789 pound pumpkin that he lost in August that was grown from the 1725 seed.   The next season he planted another 1725 seed that produced one of the most memorable world records ever.  The first one ton pumpkin at 2,009 pounds.

I got to see that world record plant in action and it was something special.  A local grower got a cutting of that plant which was kept alive all winter in a greenhouse.  The plant had bad powdery mildew and it just verily survived the shipping but once it kicked into gear you could tell it had something special in it.

The next season a new world record was grown from the 2009 seed.  This last season a lot of 2009 seeds were grown along with 2009 crosses from the year before.  16 of the 20 biggest pumpkins grown in 2014 are from the Kingly Line 1725 Harp seed that Ron Wallace grew that produced the 2009.  That includes the three world record breaking pumpkins that Beni Meier grew this last season, the biggest being from the 2009 seed itself at an amazing 2,102 pounds.  Which by the way wasn't the biggest pumpkin ever grown by Beni.  The year before he had grown a  2,323 pound pumpkin that he lost weeks before the weigh-off that was reported to still be packing on pounds when he lost it and it was grown from the 2,009 seed.  The Kingly Line still lives on.

It should be noted here that people grow genetics that have been proven, so statistically speaking if a seed is grown more often it in all likelihood is going to produce bigger pumpkins just because more and better growers will be planting it.  That isn't the case with the 2009 seed.  Some people talk about grower techniques improving, but there hasn't been an improvement in techniques that I'm aware of that would make weights jump up hundreds of pounds for dozens of growers in just a couple of seasons.  Statistically I don't remember a seed since the 1068 Wallace that has produced more big pumpkins consistently than the 2009.  A 1700+ pound pumpkin just a few years ago astonished growers.  This last season a 1600-1799 pound pumpkin is almost a footnote.  There were 24 pumpkins just this last season that went to the scale that were over 1800 pounds.  For a good part of the country weather was not that good for growing so what was produced is even more astonishing.

I got a 2009 Wallace seed from Ron and I didn't even ask for it.  It was very kind of him to send.  That next season I tried to start it and it was the only seed to not germinate which was disappointing.

This next season I plan to grow a 282 Scherber if Joe can get me a few.  The 282 seed is a selfed pollination from the world record clone plant that I had mentioned previously.  Joe grew a fantastic pumpkin from that seed this last year.  The pumpkin was in state record territory when he lost it about 3 weeks before the weigh-off.  It was very thick inside he said when he cut it open and estimated it could have ended up at 1,600 pounds but the pumpkin never made it to the scale.

I hope to create my own Kingly Line off that 282 seed this next season.  The season after that I'll be growing some Barron seeds.  If I had room for those they would go in patch this year.  Very interesting cross of the 1730 Werner x 2009 Wallace.

Some interesting pumpkin seeds with that Kingly Line crossed into it can be found here as well as DVDs from world record Ron Wallace talking about his world record season.  A must watch video.





Saturday, November 1, 2014

What to Do on Halloween Night with a 1,300 Pound Pumpkin

This is hilarious!  We had a lot of fun making this video.  My apologies to any kinds that can no longer go to a house with a jack-o-lantern out front.  In all there was probably 30 groups that we scared with the giant pumpkin.  Left me a little sore from sitting in the thing for hours.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 31, 2014

9News Features Joe and My Pumpkins this Morning

I'm hoping they will post the video a bit later, but the following is the link to the 9News story with the pumpkins. http://www.9news.com/story/news/weird/2014/10/31/giant-pumpkin-size/18198669/.

Thanks again to Michelle for doing a great job again on caring the pumpkin.  Also thanks to Skype for partnering with Michelle to get it carved.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Pumpkin Man on 9News this Friday

Halloween day there will be in an interview on 9News with Joe's and mine pumpkins included.  This interview just kind of popped up out of thin air and became a lot bigger than I thought it would be.  It was a fun shoot.  See what popped up out of Joe's pumpkin when we cut it open to get seeds.  Segment will air between 8:00-9:00am on Friday.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Next Season's Patch Configuration

I'm going to reconfigure my pumpkin patch next year.  For the last five years I've had my two pumpkin run side by side each running east and west.  That worked well for the southern plant but the north plant has very limited space and if my first pollination didn't take I would have to curve the main vine north to set the next pumpkin and space was very limited for that. 

I'm now going to keep the southern plant like it has been but the north plant I'm now going to have it run north.  I'll expand the patch a little that direction which will give me almost 45 more square feet of growing area for that plant and I can even let the main vine go farther if it wants to run so it can grow all season.

In the picture above where you see the plastic is where my two planting areas will be.  My cover crop, in this warm fall, hasn't taken off like I would have expected it to.  The nights have been in the forties but the day time highs have been in the high 70s for the last two weeks since I planted so I would expect more green by now.  I wasn't going to send in a soil sample, but I needed to send in one for my garden so I decided I should send in one for the patch as well just to make sure something isn't out of whack.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Nice End to the Season

To say this season was miserable would be an understatement.  After losing both plants I decided to try to save a pumpkin and I'm glad now I did.  After a month and a half off the vine my little Lucille made it to the scale twice. 

Today I went back to my roots and took my pumpkin to the Festval of Scarecrows, the place of my first ever weigh-off.  Along with it I had my kids pumpkins along with the biggest pumpkin grown in Colorado by Joe.  Pulling up at the weigh-off you would have thought we were rock stars.  Most people have never seen a 500+ pound pumpkin more or less a 1,300 pound pumpkin.  The smiles on their faces makes a season of hard work worth it.

In the weigh-off we took all of the top honors with the kids taking 1st and 2nd (even beating all of the adults by a lot) and I took first in the adult division.  I got a lot of seed requests at the weigh-off.  It was a fun day.

Took this picture before the weigh-off.  I love fall.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I'm in the Denver Post Today

I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by the Denver Post.  They said they wanted to write an article about me and my pumpkin growing.  Let's face it.  If they could interview the pumpkin they would have preferred to do that but I was their next best option.

Almost a little embarrassed by it.  Seems like there were a number of other growers that were more deserving of an article.  My little wussy showing with a pumpkin that was very small in August by my standards and hasn't grown since wasn't my best showing.   I just hope that maybe a few people will be intrigued by the article and maybe take some more interest in the sport.  However, after reading how I've had more pumpkins lost then have gone to the scale will probably just scare a few people away.  Lol

You can read the full article at:  http://www.denverpost.com/arvada/ci_26681943/arvada-man-keeps-trying-record-pumpkin

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Finally Got a Chance to Till the Soil

I tilled into the pumpkin patch 1 1/2 yards of compost, 6 bails of sphagnum peat moss, 100 pounds of alfalfa pellets, 30 pounds of gypsum and 20 pounds of granular humic acid.  I then racked in a cover crop of winter rye that I will let grow all winter and then will till into the ground in the spring.  In the spring I'll send in a soil sample and probably add another yard or so of compost along with what other items I need to make sure everything is adjust properly.

I'm guessing next season will be first season in this patch that I'll finally have my potassium and potash low enough that things will be balanced.  That is if I don't screw it up again.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

One More Weigh-off to Go

Yesterday I took my 335 Scherber pumpkin to the weigh-off at Nick's.  It ended up at a respectable 511 pounds which in my book isn't bad considering that plant was diseased and the pumpkin was picked in mid-August and then was just sitting in the patch for 1 1/2 months with a tarp over it.  None the less it was a disappointing season.

I'm going to be taking the 335 Scherber to one more weigh-off along with the kids pumpkins next weekend.  Also will be hauling with them a nearly 1,300 pound pumpkin grown by Joe Scherber which he was kind enough to give to my wife.  All of the pumpkins are in front of the house right now.  If you've never seen a 1,300 pound piece of fruit, swing on by.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A New World Record Pumpkin

Congrats to Beni on a new world record pumpkin.  An amazing 2,096 pounds.  Rumor has it that this is Beni's smaller pumpkin and the larger one will still be going to the scale.

Beni grew a pumpkin that was over 2,300 pounds last year but the pumpkin split on him, disqualifying the pumpkin.  The pumpkin was still growing quickly when it split on him.  An amazing grower.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Son & Daughter Took the Top Two Positions in the Weigh-off Today

Congrats to both of them this year.  They worked hard in the pumpkin patch and it paid off, taking 1st and 2nd place in the weigh-off.  Of course it helped they were the only two kinds in the kids division this year.  Regardless of that, a 401 pound pumpkin is good regardless of how many people where in the competition.  Both of their pumpkins were nailed by hail twice and lost the main vines on their plants.  My son's pumpkin was pollinated the beginning of August if I remember right so to end up at 325 pounds in less than 1 1/2 months on a 150 square foot plant I think is pretty commendable.