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The life and times of giant pumpkins

Nothing says fall like a 200-pound pumpkin … unless of course it’s two 200-pound pumpkins.

Nothing says fall like a 200-pound pumpkin … unless of course it’s two 200-pound pumpkins.

The colossal jack-o-lantern prospects were trucked nearly 2,000 kilometres to Whitehorse two weeks ago.

The pair of pumpkins came from a farm near Portland, Oregon and are currently on display at the Porter Creek Super A and Granger’s Bigway Foods.

They were ordered by the stores’ owner Sam Jurovich.

“I booked it through my wholesaler,” said Jurovich. “I booked it because I kind of liked the idea of kids being able to come in and see it, and then see the size of their eyes.

“I just bought them so people could see a 200-pound pumpkin, really.”

Both pumpkins have nametags.

Blu-Ray, the Granger pumpkin, weighs 206 pounds and measures 99 inches at its widest point.

Ika Bob, the Porter Creek pumpkin, weighs 215 pounds and has a “waist” that measures 100 inches around.

One pumpkin will be going to a local school after Halloween and the other is not yet spoken for, said Jurovich last week.

 “We’ll do the same thing. Whoever asks first is generally who I donate it to, so normally a daycare or a school.”

The pumpkins were purchased for about $250 each from a wholesaler in Edmonton, he said.

The Alberta capital was just a way station for scores of Oregon pumpkins that have made their way all over western Canada, said Wayne Kosteroski, a wholesale produce manager for the Grocery People in Edmonton.

“They come from a place called St. Paul, Oregon. It’s about 20 miles south of Portland, a place called Mustard Seed Farms.

“That guy’s got about six acres of giant pumpkins and the farm is entirely organic,” said Kosteroski from his Edmonton office last week.

The pumpkins wholesalers get from Mustard Seed Farms range from 70 to 600 pounds, he said.

“What I do here is I send out a memo to the stores and I pre-book them. This year I had a huge response,” said Kosteroski.

“What I do is get them from Oregon and I send them out to the retailers on their trucks.

“At the retail side of it, it definitely creates a lot of excitement in the community.”

 Mustard Seed pumpkins have only two additives: tender loving care and sugar manure, said David Brown, the farm’s owner.

“I tell people there are three Ss to growing good pumpkins.

“One is the right seed. You also have to have the right space. (And) the soil has to be in good condition.”

To get that nice flying-saucer shape with the stem facing up, the pumpkins are adjusted every seven to 10 days, said Brown, who was speaking from St. Paul last Thursday.

“Otherwise, they’ll be laying on their side and not as beautiful a pumpkin.”

There are lots of different kinds of pumpkins, it all depends on the seed you use.

Seed, that is considered good for growing nice pumpkins, include types referred to as Prize Winner and Wyatt’s Wonder, said Brown.

The Atlantic Giant seed is also good, but it requires a lot more room than the 4.5-metre spacing Brown has between his pumpkins.

Atlantic seeds grow pumpkins that reach 800 to 900 pounds, he said.

The giant pumpkin business has been great for Mustard Seed Farms. The Oregon farmer has orders from as far south as Panama and as far north as Fairbanks, Alaska.

“You cannot look at a giant pumpkin without putting a smile on your face, said Brown. “We sell over 1,000 a year.”

Happy pumpkinism is a sentiment echoed by pumpkin growers at fairs across the world as they vie for the coveted title of world’s biggest pumpkin grower.

This year’s winner was Joe Jutras of North Scituate, Rhode Island whose pumpkin came in at 1,689 pounds, according to the records from September’s giant pumpkin contest at Topsfield Fair in Massachusetts.

Jutras’ prizewinner beat out the previous champ Ron Wallace’s pumpkin by a country mile.

Last year, Wallace’s winning pumpkin came in at 1,502 pounds.