By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Jay Richard of Worland spent part of Sunday measuring pumpkins.
And while it may seem like an unusual way to spend the day, it certainly was productive — his largest weighed in at approximately 1,304 pounds — almost twice the weight of last year’s largest pumpkin at 713 pounds.
“I started involving science this year and frequent testing of the soil, plus I’m following different fertilizer recommendations,” Richard told Cowboy State Daily on Monday. “This is what the tape measurer says so far, but the tape measurer can lie. The scale doesn’t lie.”
For the last few years, Richard has been growing pumpkins from Atlantic giant pumpkin seeds, which can produce pumpkins ranging in size from a few hundred pounds to nearly 1,500 pounds.
Currently, he is outpacing his own largest pumpkins and in his effort to take the record for Wyoming’s largest pumpkin.
The record is currently held by a grower in Cheyenne who offered up a pumpkin weighing 1,491 pounds.
Richard grows three giant pumpkins every year, planting them around mid-April and taking them off the vine in late September, just in time for the annual giant pumpkin weigh-in in Worland, which will be held Oct. 2 this year.
Two of the pumpkins are explicitly grown to be “show pumpkins,” while the other is intended to be dropped.
Following the weigh-in, there will be a giant pumpkin drop. Last year, the pumpkins were aimed at a large inflatable ball painted to look like a coronavirus germ.
People are allowed to take pieces of the shattered pumpkins after the drop. The giant pumpkins are perfectly fine to eat, although Richard previously told Cowboy State Daily they might be relatively flavorless.
While Richard is gunning for the state record this year, he isn’t necessarily in competition with his fellow growers. Instead, he’s constantly pushing himself to grow a bigger and better pumpkin every year.
This year has been particularly good for his pumpkin crop, with the heat being the best weather element for his gigantic squashes. The warm days will be key for his pumpkins to get as large as possible before the weigh-in in October.
His largest pumpkin is growing at a rate of around 25 pounds per day, Richard said.
“Last year, I kept saying if I had planted two weeks earlier, I’d have been perfect,” he said. “This year, I basically jumped through the window of opportunity and planted April 10 and I’ve just had a really good year with these pumpkins, no bad weather besides a little hail early on.”