Much to the chagrin of many growers, the number of giant pumpkins competing this weekend at the Giant Pumpkin Festival in Elk Grove has diminished because of the drought.
Pumpkin growing requires plenty of water and some participants in the festival have chosen to let their lawns turn brown so they can give their prize pumpkins a little extra drink. “We removed our front yard and put in fake grass,” competitor Cindi Glaser said. “We have moved four or five times across the country looking for the perfect spot for growing pumpkins.”
CBS Sacramento reported that Cindi and her husband are fascinated by growing pumpkins. “There’s nothing that grows like a pumpkin. Face it, there’s nothing that grows 50 pounds a day,” Cindi points out. “You know, they start from a seed, they go to a little dinky plant. The next thing you know, it’s taking up a 50×50 area in your front yard.”
Unfortunately, due to the drought growing pumpkins has become more challenging. “We used more compost on top of our soil to try and hold moisture in. We changed our misters — dropped height from six feet to four so there wouldn’t be that much evaporation,” Cindi explained.
Jenn Taylor, the director of the Giant Pumpkin Festival in Elk Grove observed that it has been a tough year for growers like Cindi and her husband. “Usually we have right around a hundred pumpkins and this year we’re looking at about 35,” she said. Taylor says that it is sad because the growers are very passionate about their pumpkins.
In addition to it being sad, it also is costly. “We actually offer $6 a pound for the pumpkin and there’s prizes awards all over the country. And if you break world records, there’s awards everywhere,” Taylor said.
CBS reported that the California state record of 1,874.5 pound pumpkin was set last year with a pumpkin from Napa. Surprisingly, despite the reduced number of large pumpkins statewide, this year’s winning pumpkin set a new record with 1,928 pounds.