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Big pumpkins sought for fall celebration

June 9, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

The Upshur County West Virginia University Extension Office and the Buckhannon-Upshur Farmers Market will host a large pumpkin, fruit and vegetable contest this fall.

Many contests and activities will be in October at the Buckhannon-Upshur Farmers Market and Jawbone Park. Fruits and vegetables will be weighed or measured to determine the largest weight or length.

The current state records are listed as follows: 27.45 pounds for cantaloupe; 41 inches long for cucumbers, 12.125 inches long for an ear of corn, 3.16 pounds for a potato, 1,157 pounds for a pumpkin, 10.98 pounds for a sweet potato, 3.9 pounds for a tomato and 142.5 pounds for a watermelon, just to name a few.

The contest will include all varieties of fruits and vegetables brought by participants. Pumpkin contests also will be judged the same day, including a giant pumpkin contest to be determined by the pumpkin's weight. Carved pumpkins also will be judged in different categories: scariest, cutest, most intricate and most unique. Smaller and medium pumpkins will be judged according to their uniformity, unblemished skin, proper size/shape and overall quality. A unique pumpkin also will be chosen according to the pumpkin's size, shape, color and skin.

The celebration also will host a recipe contest. Each recipe must contain pumpkin as a main ingredient. Children also can participate in the pumpkin roll. The age groups will be 0 to 3, 3 to 6 and 7 to 12. More information will be available as the contest date approaches.

It is time to start growing large fruits and vegetables for the contest.

Here are some tips for growing large pumpkins:

Pumpkins should be planted by mid-June.

Choose an area where the plant will be in full sun.

It typically it takes four months to grow pumpkins weighing more than 100 pounds.

Many varieties will produce large pumpkins including Atlantic Giants, Big Max and Big Moon.

Soil should include rich dirt, compost or cow manure, and fertilizer.

Seeds should be planted in mounds 25 feet apart.

Plant three to five seeds per mound. If all seeds come up, choose the strongest plant and take out the other plants.

When the plant begins to grow, keep only the strongest fruit and pick off all other blooms.

Growing large pumpkins takes a great deal of water. Regularly water and bimonthly fertilize the plant.

Keep the area around the pumpkin plant, vine and fruit weeded.

More information is available at 304-473-4208.



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