HALF MOON BAY, Calif.,—On Monday, a new state record was set. At 2,175 pounds, the enormous pumpkin Leonardo Urena from Napa brought in was declared the heaviest at the annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off in Half Moon Bay.
It broke the previous record for the heaviest pumpkin from California, by about 37 pounds.
For every pound of pumpkin, the first-place winner receives $7. Urena received a check for over $15,000 and a green jacket that says ‘2019 Grand Champion Grower.’
He started growing it as a seed in April. It gained an average of 25 pounds per day.
The secret to getting such a size?
“Try to apply organic fertilizers to grow a giant pumpkin. It’s important because if you grow organically, they can make it all the way to the end,” said Urena.
He grows it in the open field in a Napa ranch with fertile soil, and abundant water, which he says are the perfect conditions for growing these giant gourds.
His son-in-law, Ruben Frias, also from Napa, took second place. He said it’s hard work to get them to that size.
“Five hundred gallons a day for five pumpkins. It’s a lot of water,” said Frias.
Both are veteran giant pumpkin growers.
What do they plan to do with the pumpkins now?
“I’m going [to] sell [it in] a winery in Napa for exhibition. People can see the pumpkin every day if you [are] going to tasting rooms,” said Frias.
“We’re going to rent it or lease it to a restaurant, and then after Thanksgiving we collect the seeds and dry ’em and pack ’em and send them to other growers because we trade seeds with other growers around the world and that’s where we’ve been getting the best genetics in this sport,” said Urena.
“There is a certain magic of the pumpkin that I think just brings a smile to everyone’s face,” said Beeman. “Who doesn’t love pumpkins?”
Second place winners will receive $3,000, third place wins $2,500, and fourth place receives $2,000. There is also a special prizes category for the biggest pumpkin from California, the biggest pumpkin from the Coastside (Montara to Pescadero), and the most beautiful pumpkin.
The top winners will have their pumpkins displayed at the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival on Oct. 19-20.