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October 01, 2013   Email to Friend 

Alabama’s Great Pumpkin
Mary Johnson

The state record 903-pound pumpkin provides the perfect perch for Elsie Boyd, 4, and her brother, Callen, 2, during the inaugural Farm Y’all Festival in Cullman. Their father, Trent, grew the giant pumpkin at Harvest Farm in Fairview.

A lumpy gourd was the belle of the inaugural Farm Y’all Festival in Cullman. Spectators marveled at the misshaped mound and posed for pictures with the 903-pound behemoth pumpkin during the Aug. 24 event.

“It’s amazing!” said 8-year old Guy Haynes, a student at West Point Elementary in Cullman. “They had to move it with a forklift. They probably needed a machete to (cut the vine).”

A product of Trent Boyd’s Harvest Farm in Fairview, the winning pumpkin weighed in for a new Alabama record. The old record of 887 pounds was set last year by Boyd.

“I like to beat my personal best every year,” said Boyd, who had a second pumpkin that weighed in at 876 pounds this year. “As long as I can do that, I’ll keep going. I did think it would go a little bit heavier.”

Boyd said pumpkins can gain 30 pounds a day. This year, like for many crops, too much rain presented problems.

“(The pumpkin) stopped growing early this season,” he said. “The rain can rot the vines.”

Hezekiah Wahl of Athens won the Howard Dill Award for “Best Looking Pumpkin” with his 410-pound bright orange entry. First-time contestant Spencer Glasgow, 22, of Oak Grove brought an impressive 619-pound pumpkin; however, a hole prevented it from being an official entry.

“I just got into this because I enjoy pumpkins,” Glasgow said. “You have to start growing in March or April indoors, or they won’t be big enough for the weigh-ins. (Once they’re planted), it takes about an hour or two per day to maintain the plant. It’s a lot of off-season work with bringing in compost and getting the soil ready.”

Glasgow, with no farm background, began growing giant pumpkins two years ago. He said he enjoys the hobby so much he switched his major from mechanical engineering to environmental science at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His mom, Cindy, said each year her yard gets a little smaller as the pumpkin patch gets larger.

Intense heat can make growing giant pumpkins in the South a challenge. Growers like Glasgow often use a shade cloth to protect their prize pumpkins.

Giant pumpkin growers swap seeds in hopes of achieving a record holder the following year. Trent Boyd shared pumpkin seeds with festival patrons in a unique way. He hoisted his 876-pound pumpkin with a crane and dropped it from a height of almost 200 feet. As the pumpkin exploded on impact, people flocked to scoop up seeds.

“We were just trying to have a little fun,” he said. “I knew what it was going to do, but it was pretty funny (to see other people’s reaction.)”

For pumpkin pictures and video of the pumpkin drop, visit http://bit.ly/18p7DlL.


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