Ron Wallace from Greene, Rhode Island is the first person in the world to grow a pumpkin weighing over a ton. In 2012 he grew a 2,009-pound pumpkin. This was the Holy Grail of giant pumpkin growing — it was what breaking the sound barrier was to aviation and running the four-minute mile was to sports. Pumpkin growers have been trying to do this for decades.
How was this done? “Year-round work,” Ron says. “Start with the right soil and the right seed. And then spend hours upon hours toiling away as the pumpkins grow.”
Hard work and dedication and are key. Lots of TLC. The plants need to be tended to at least daily. The plants need fertilizer, pruning, and lots of water. They need to be checked for disease, rot, and other maladies.
“Giant pumpkin growers don’t go away on summer vacations,” Ron says. “They vacation in their pumpkin patches.”
Ron spends 20 to 40 hours a week on his hobby. He has been doing this for 30 years. He has a day job as well — general manager of a country club.
He’s won two Guinness World Records, one in 2006 for a 1,502 pounder that was the world’s first pumpkin over 1,500 pounds, one in 2012 for the 2,009 pounder. In 2015 he won an award for a 2,230.5 pounder that was the largest ever grown in North America.
The growers are competitive. When they get together like did they did at the annual meeting of the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth that took place in February 2016 in England, they display the weight of their largest pumpkins on their name tags.
But there also is camaraderie. They share knowledge. They share seeds. They cheer each other on.
The pumpkins grow at the rate of 40 to 50 pounds a day. Watching them grow like this is the type of safe excitement that we dull men like.
Ron has appeared twice on “Martha Stewart Living,” twice on “Live with Kelly and Michael,” and once on ABC’s “The Chew.” He’s been featured in stories aired on NBC’s “Nightly News,” ABC’s “Evening News,” CBS’s “Sunday Morning,” and CNN.
There are practical uses, broader applications, for what these pumpkin growers have developed. Medical marijuana growers interested in increasing yields are learning from pumpkin growers.
“I really feel that giant pumpkin growers are shaping how the world grows produce,” Ron says. “We are doing a lot for farming.”