Prize-Winning Pumpkin Weighs 1,528 Pounds
Thad Starr of Oregon won the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off with a pumpkin that weighed in at a whopping 1,528 pounds. It was Starr's second victory at the contest, which hands out $6 a pound to the grower of the heaviest pumpkin. Starr ended up winning more than $9,000.
Starr grew the winning pumpkin using the seeds from the 1,500-pound pumpkin he grew to win the 2007 pumpkin contest. In addition to good genes, he attributes his victory to excellent soil and plenty of TLC.
A self-described "obsessive nerd," the 41-year-old father of two spent two hours a day with the six giant pumpkin contenders he grew in a greenhouse behind his home — adjusting, snipping and watering.
He put a heating coil in the soil to keep the roots at a constant temperature of 70 degrees. He mixed a signature fertilizer potion of worm casings, alfalfa meal and molasses and fed it to the pumpkins every week.
And when it came time for his pumpkin to make the long, bumpy trip to Half Moon Bay, he appropriated an old futon to cushion it.
"I had a greenhouse inside my greenhouse because it was so freezing for a while. I think when you become a giant pumpkin grower, you go kind of nuts. Our saying is 'whatever it takes,' " said Starr, who has been growing giant pumpkins for three years.
In one of life's little ironies, Starr wasn't even expecting the pumpkin that won to be able to compete. For months it was the runt of the litter, but then it had a sudden growth spurt and gained 900 pounds in August at an extraordinary rate of 30 pounds a day.