A New York pumpkin weighing 2,554 pounds set a new record for heaviest pumpkin in North America, according to the Great Pumpkin Farm near Buffalo.
Scott Andrusz, 63, and his family grew the girthy gourd at their farm in Lancaster, New York, throughout the summer into fall. The $5,500 in prize money will go into replenishing the soil for next year’s competition.
Andrusz said it took months of dedicated daily care, shading new growth on the plant, diligently pruning the pumpkin vines to make sure just a few select pumpkins were growing, and treating the plant regularly for bugs and fungus.
“Give it all the best stuff you can think of to give it, all the fertilizer, kelp worm castings, chicken refuse,” Andrusz said. “And a ton of water every time she’s thirsty you gotta go give her a drink.”
Another difficult task was protecting the pumpkin from cats and raccoons.
“All the animals and critters seem to love this pumpkin more than anything in the world. They all want to eat on it. And I have cats come and try to scratch it,” he said. “They think it's a big couch.”
The New York squash smashed a 2018 record for largest North American pumpkin, set in 2018 in New Hampshire, by a pumpkin weighing 2,528 pounds.
In the end, the vine that bore the prized fruit stretched across a field 40 by 40 feet, Andrusz said.
Andrusz started angling for a record-squashing pumpkin three years ago, after he retired as a commercial farmer in Lancaster, New York.
Last year he came close to victory, but his behemoth pumpkin cracked in the final days before harvest time. Andrusz said this fall’s victory felt good.
“Finally, just so incredible, it’s the culmination of a lot of hard effort for me and my sons,” he said, describing his adulation of large gourds. “I love standing next to them to see them all. They're just so amazing to me.”
The New York pumpkin still falls 148 pounds shy of the world record set in Italy in 2021. Tuscan farmer Stefano Cutrupi grew the largest pumpkin ever recorded, weighing 2,707 pounds, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Andrusz’ pumpkin will be on display through mid-October at the farm, according to the Buffalo News.
Andrusz said he’s not sure what he’ll do with the pumpkin after it’s done being displayed. He’s open to suggestions. The most important thing is to make sure he scoops out the seeds for next year.
Andrusz had one piece of advice to anyone trying their hand at cultivating a prized pumpkin.
“Don’t plan on doing any fishing, that’s what I used to do,” he said. “But now when I concentrate on pumpkins, I sure don’t do much else but concentrate on pumpkins. They keep you up all night, you worry about the critters running around out there and all that.”