"Giant" 32-lb. pumpkin in UK ... is this remarkable?


Yes, I know the “story” is that he watered his pumpkins with beer. But I’m curious re: the “giant” label.

The size of footballs? Thirty-two pounds? Who cares?

I bought three pumpkins this year from my local farm (USA, NY State), all of them significantly larger than footballs (either American or British), and they weren’t even the largest pumpkins available–all rather mid-sized. Last year, we had a 50-lb pumpkin–which was the largest I’ve ever owned personally, but STILL not even close to the biggest at the farm. And meanwhile, none of those pumpkins even came close to being “giant”, like the 1,000-pounders (usually Canadian) that regularly win pumpkin weigh-ins each year.

So what’s the deal? Is the UK climate such that pumpkins are generally quite small over there? Or is this just an excuse for some BBC reporter to do a cute story about some nutty bloke who waters his pumpkins with beer?

We don’t have the ideal climate for pumpkins here and they do tend to start ripening at an smaller stage than they would in their native regions, but no, a 32-pound pumpkin is unremarkable even for the UK (and leads me to wonder if they dropped a zero).

Bernard Lavery is probably the most famous UK grower of giant vegetables and has achieved pumpkin weights of more than 700 pounds.

Oregon and New Hampshire are part of Canada now ? The current record is 1458 pounds, grown by Bruce and Mary Whittier of Henniker, New Hampshire.
Walton’s 32 pounder is probably the largest ever grown by a BBC regular.

Last week, David Letterman blew up a pumpkin weighing over 1,000 pounds on 53rd street (outside the Ed Sullivan Theater), and said that it wasn’t the largest pumpkin on record. IIRC (where’s that Guinness book when you need it?), Letterman said the record was 1,400 pounds.

It could be that in the UK the word “pumpkin” refers to a different species than we have is in 'Merica, and that 32 pounds is big for that kind.

Although on closer reading, maybe they didn’t drop a zero (a 320 pound two-year-old child would be the remarkable thing).

I’d put this down to a blend of slow news and inexperienced reporting.

Well, I haven’t kept up. After perennial winner Howard Dill released his Dill’s Atlantic Giant seeds to the public a few years ago, all the winners seemed to be coming from around the eastern Great Lakes / St. Lawrence waterway area (which has a pretty good local climate for pumpkin growing).

Not really; the pumpkins we have here are pretty much the same as those you have in the USA - we may have some local varieties, but they are the same species (or mixture of species - pumpkin taxonomy is rather incestuous).

32 pounds would certainly be a satisfying achievement for the average garden vegetable grower, but it isn’t a remarkable achievement - how on earth this made it into the news is a mystery.

But it’s not just a 32 pound pumpkin … it’s a 32 pound pumpkin raised on beer. That’s headline gold for a newspaper!

Heh, I have to admit I’d always assumed there weren’t any pumpkins in the UK because of the number of references to pumpkin juice in the Harry Potter books. I couldn’t imagine that J.K. Rowling would think that was a good idea if she had ever tasted an actual pumpkin.

You learn new stuff all the time here.

You have to remember that Brits are the people who eat st… I mean kidney pie!

[ducks and runs]

She still may not have – they’re not hugely popular here. FTR, all the pumpkins I’ve seen in shops this year have been at least as big as footballs and there have been a few on TV that would dwarf a 32-pounder.

A pumpkin weight that’s only 2 digits? So what? You need a 4-digit weight just to hold your head up in that field. Since the commercial availability in the 1980’s or so of the Dill’s Atlantic Giant hybrid, created by Howard Dill of Windsor, Nova Scotia, growing them has become a serious competitive sport in New England and the Atlantic provinces. Since the variety is not yet genetically stabilized, the record increases almost every year and is now 1337.6 pounds. Peak growth rates are measurable in pounds (and gallons of water) per day. Colors remain variable too, from the traditional deep orange to a pale tan.

Giant Pumpkin links from the New England Pumpkin Growers’ Association

I found a page of a guy who grows pumpkins in the UK. http://www.gardeningexpress.co.uk/pumpkins/Chris’s%20page His best is so far is 668 lbs, so it seems the UK isn’t the best climate for growing, but certainly 32 lbs is unremarkable.

(sorry about not linking the link. This board doesn’t like the apostrophe.)