HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (AP) — A Minnesota horticulture teacher set a world record in California on Monday for the heaviest pumpkin after growing a giant jack-o’-lantern gourd weighing 2,749 pounds (1,247 kilograms).
Travis Gienger of Anoka, Minnesota, won the 50th World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off in Half Moon Bay, California, with an enormous, lumpy, orange pumpkin that could produce at least 687 pies.
“I was not expecting that. It was quite the feeling,” said Gienger, 43, who has been growing pumpkins for nearly 30 years and last year set a new U.S. record for growing a giant gourd.
The previous world record for heaviest pumpkin was set by a grower in Italy who produced a 2,702-pound (1,226-kilogram) squash in 2021, according to Guinness World Records.
Gienger grows his gourds in the pumpkin patch in his backyard. He said this year he decided to give his plants extra care, watering them up to 12 times a day and feeding and fertilizing them a bit more than usual.
Gienger, a landscape and horticulture teacher at Anoka Technical College, has been growing pumpkins since he was a teenager, inspired by his father who also grew them. He first competed in Half Moon Bay’s annual weigh-off in 2020 and has won three of the city’s last four giant pumpkin contests.
“I put in the work so that I can put a smile on people’s faces and it’s just so nice coming out here to see everyone in this town,” he said.
The pumpkin champ won a $30,000 prize for growing the biggest pumpkin and setting a world record.
The gargantuan pumpkin will be on display in Half Moon Bay along with the three runner-ups through next weekend when visitors to the city’s Art and Pumpkin Festival will be able to take photos with Gienger and the enormous gourd.