A Minnesota grower drove his gigantic gourd all the way to California to capture first prize at the World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off with a whopping beauty weighing 2,350-pounds.

Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off

And it’s so befitting that Travis Gienger hails from Anoka, a town that has for years dubbed itself the Halloween Capital of the World.

Gienger, a horticulture teacher at the Anoka Technical College, won the grand prize of the Safeway-sponsored annual event which pays $7 for every pound, taking home $16,450.

Seeds from a giant pumpkin are the size of a peach pit and after being planted in April, giant pumpkins can gain as much as 50 pounds a day, on their best day. Gienger has been growing pumpkins in his backyard for 20 years and, according to the Star-Tribune, recently perfected soil conditions for the Atlantic Giant seed variety and at its peak his champion gourd was growing 53 pounds per day in the sandy soil of Anoka.

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The pumpkin was a mere 274 pounds shy of smashing the world record of 2,624 pounds, set in 2016 by Mathias Willemijns of Belgium at the Giant Pumpkin European Championship in Ludwigsburg, Germany.

Keys to growing giant pumpkins include superior seed lineage, treating with fertilizer every other day, constant moisture, and burying the vine in the soil to promote rooting.

The Star-Tribune reports that a single crack in the pumpkin during the cross-country drive would have disqualified him from the contest, but “Gienger fitted a trailer with a pallet, tarps and soil to keep Tiger King from bouncing around, and he watered it every time they stopped for gas.”

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Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off

Due to the COVID pandemic, the event was live-streamed, and normally the winning pumpkin is sent to a botanical garden. That, too, was cancelled, but in a happy coincidence for the Minnesota winner, this year happens to be the 100th anniversary of Anoka’s Halloween celebration, so it will make a perfect celebrity as the legitimate Great Pumpkin.

The first championship weigh-off in Half Moon Bay was held in 1974 when the mayor challenged the citizens in Circleville, Ohio, to a competition because they proclaimed themselves the “Pumpkin Capital of the World”, a title they lost that year.

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The Northern California town grows about 3,500 tons of pumpkins annually with its dozen commercial growers shipping the golden gourds all across the United States.

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See original article here-https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/2350-lb-pumpkin-crowned-largest-in-no-america/

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