ALBION, Ind. (WANE) – Just four years into his hobby, Keith Edwards had his best pumpkin-growing season ever. The Noble County man grew seven pumpkins over the last few months that totaled more than 7,000 pounds.
Edwards began growing his Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds about four months ago. “They’re made to get big,” he said. “The world record is 2,100 pounds. It was grown in Switzerland.”
Edwards said he began growing the pumpkins after getting interested in it from a good friend, David Keister, who has been growing pumpkins for several years.
“We have a friendly rivalry,” Edwards said. “He has the most knowledge on this. I’m able to listen to him and do well.”
In his first attempt four years ago, Edwards grew an Atlantic Giant pumpkin that weighed 165 pounds. This season, the heaviest topped the scale at 1,364 pounds and the smallest weighed 798 pounds.
“Each year you just try to outdo what you did before,” Edwards said. “Luckily this year, it all came together and I ended up with some really good ones.”
Growing these pumpkins isn’t as simple as planting them and then sitting back and watching. They take hours of work daily.
Edwards said he starts by planting the seeds in small containers, which is done inside. Once leaves are showing, the pumpkins are moved outside, and placed strategically to keep them from growing into each other.
“It takes you two or three hours every day for four months to actually get them to this point,” said Edwards, who added that all kinds of things in Mother Nature are out to kill the pumpkins. “Wind will take them out in a second. You have to water them when it doesn’t rain, and you have to spray them big time for bugs.”
While their growing, Edwards said he can uses charts that projects a pumpkin’s growth. At their peak, a pumpkin can grow 25 pounds a day. Edwards said its time to pull the pumpkins out of the ground once the growth drops to about five pounds per day.
Edwards hasn’t shown his pumpkins off, other than for the neighbors and friends who drive by each fall to check them out. Next year, he plans to be a member of the Indiana Pumpkin Growers Association (IPGA), which has competitions for who has the heaviest pumpkin.
He has been using a pumpkin patch he has in his backyard, but is considering finding a new home on his property to grow them next year. Like many crops, pumpkins can only grow in the same place for so long, before results start to diminish.
According to the IPGA’s website, the heaviest pumpkin ever in the state weighed 1321.5 pounds. Edwards’ largest pumpkin this year would have beaten that record.
The winning pumpkin can bring in as much as $2,000 for the grower, according to Edwards.
“This is big for Indiana, but for some northern and western states, this is nothing,” Edwards said. “They’re used to growing pumpkins that are 1,800 pounds to 2,000 pounds.”
Edwards said he’s an avid fisherman and hunter, but pumpkin growing has become another favorite hobby.
He said he enjoys meeting people who stop to see the large pumpkins, but never thought they would have gotten the attention they have this fall. Edwards added that his news has reached as far west as Minnesota.