By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A Worland man is preparing to plant his giant pumpkin seeds this weekend in his attempt to break the Wyoming state record this year for the state’s biggest pumkin.
Jay Richard told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that although there are many elements he will have to battle this year, he has three pumpkin seeds selected as prime choices to get him the elusive crown.
Richard explained that he names the seeds after the weight attained by the host pumpkins. As an example, the seeds from a 1,324 pound pumpkin would be called 1324s.
His ammo this year?
“A 1676 [seed] grown by Chad New in Colorado, a 2047 grown by Ross Bowman in Utah, and another from Andy Corbin in Cheyenne,” Richard said. “I have met each of the growers and just thought it was a cool idea to have different states represented Also, I hope to redeem myself after failing last year with the Corbin seed.”
Corbin is a previous state record holder. Harold “France” Stinchcomb of Cheyenne is now the current record holder, raising a pumpkin in 2021 that weighed 1,544 pounds.
Richard had a disappointing end of the pumpkin season last fall after his 1,500-pound pumpkin, Maci, collapsed in on itself before he could get it entered into the state pumpkin weigh-off.
“It’s a lot like a race car driver on a 500-mile race coming around turn four, blowing a tire and hitting the wall,” Richard said last year.
However, he said he has confidence in “Maci 2,” the “little sister” to Maci from last year. The seed used for Maci 2 from Corbin has similar genetics to Maci, which also grew from a seed gifted to Richard from Corbin.
“She will get the coveted spot in the ‘competition’ patch,” Richard said.
The Pumpkin Drop
Richard grows three giant pumpkins per season, a routine he has had for years.
Although he didn’t have any contenders last year, he still put two of his three giant gourds to good use
While one split open a few weeks prior to the weigh-in and was fed to pigs, two others — Maci and Sally, a smaller pumpkin — were used in the annual pumpkin drop, which takes place after the pumpkin weigh-off in Worland. The drop, which attracted thousands, is where Richard hoists a number of non-prize winning, but still humongous 1,000-pound pumpkins using a sling attached to a 200-foot crane.
Once the pumpkin hits altitude, the sling is released and the pumpkin falls to its demise, exploding in glory.
There’s always a target involved. Last year, it was an old Isuzu.
The crowd, as could be expected, goes crazy. Especially the kids.
Jay’s unapologetic about it — this event is Christmas for him.
“It’s beginning to look a lot like pumpkins!!” Richard wrote on his dedicated pumpkin Facebook page promoting the preparation for the annual event.
“Check out that beautiful pile of nutrients! How about the awesome Kioti tractor from Tractor Guys making easy work of loading up the magic,” he said.
The One-Ton Club
Success doesn’t end with a state championship for Richard. He is chasing an even loftier ambition. He wants to be a member of the 1-ton club.
That’s when a pumpkin hits 2,000 pounds.
“That’s my life goal,” Richard said last year. “I think I’ll hit it in 2022. Watch me.”
Mundane For Now
For this year, he said he is excited it is no longer winter, but noted this time period of pumpkin growing is the most uneventful.
“The early growing is the most mundane, about the first three weeks not much happens, but hang on after that,” Richard said. “I’m hoping for a June 25 pollination.”
Richard joked that there was not much to worry about when growing pumpkins besides transplant shock, cold soil, bugs and mice, fungus and much, much more.
“It’s hard to use giant pumpkins and carefree in the same sentence,” he said.
Despite the laundry list of potential problems, Richard reminded anyone interested in growing giant pumpkins that at the end of the day, it’s just a plant.
“Do not get overwhelmed and just do what you can,” he said. “Do not worry about what anyone else is doing, take notes and again, have fun!”