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It's being billed as the Extreme Gardening Super Bowl. Where they grow pumpkins at 10 times the size of what you might see on someone's door step. These pumpkins are so big you could almost make a house out of them. OK maybe not that big, but weighing in at 1,731 pounds -- that is a lot of pumpkin pie!

Gigantic pumpkin gardening is a growing obsession for many families and Utah seems to be the capital of states that are growing them big! Matt McConkie was pretty happy as he broke the state record at the Utah Giant Pumpkin Grower's weigh-off at Thanksgiving Point. That 1,731 pound pumpkin was a record so far this year.

Forty-five heavyweights from Utah and Idaho competed and were ranked the biggest in 2014. An enthusiastic crowd cheered as scales revealed each official weight. After 25 years of competitions, Utah is now being recognized as a top growing area, with more monsters hitting the scales than anywhere else.

Strategic breeding

Since the 1980s, giant pumpkins have tripled in size, thanks to strategic breeding and a new crop of hard-core growers with time on their hands and dirt under their fingernails. Also, advances in soil science and technology have helped growers. Thomas Andres, a squash expert at the New York Botanical Garden, has predicted that the first 2,000-pound pumpkin will appear in 2014.

Most of the country’s best growers will be at the Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers Weigh-Off which takes place October 11.The Ohio Valley contest is one of more than 80 competitions in the “Great Pumpkin Belt,” which stretches across North America from Washington State to Nova Scotia. The area is prime for raising pumpkins with 90 to 120 frost-free summer days, and temps cold enough in winter to keep plant diseases and pests in check.

The weigh-offs are pretty friendly, but let's not forget this is a science with growers meticulously graphing their pumpkins’ growth curves and sharing success and failure with their peers.

According to the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth website there are all kinds of awards in this competition, from Rookie of the Year to Grower of the Year and even a 4,000 Pounder Club.

The prize is a patch that can be sewn onto the grower's jacket. Kinda like when you were a kid and you could swim a certain distance and you got a patch on your bathing suit. I guess it's not the prize but more the accomplishment.

Prize money starts at $100 but goes up to $1,000 with some companies matching prize money and then you can win in multiple categories. There are lots of ways to win and get patches and cool jackets.

The question is how big do you think they can get?

“Nobody knows what the limit is going to be,” says Andres, of the New York Botanical Garden. In fact, mechanical engineer David Hu and colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology have been investigating pumpkin growth. A world-record strawberry or tomato weighs about ten times the average, they found. By contrast, giant pumpkins weigh 100 times the average.


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