-- A Massachusetts man achieved a goal 26 years in the making when a pumpkin he grew broke the 2,000-pound mark, making it the largest pumpkin grown in North America this year.
Steve Connolly’s pumpkin weighed in at 2,075.5 pounds at the Topsfield Fair in Topsfield, Massachusetts.
“I was the first in New England to break the 1,000-pound barrier in 2000 and we thought that that was insurmountable,” Connolly, of Sharon, Massachusetts, told ABC News.
Connolly, 61, who works as an engineer, began growing giant pumpkins 26 years ago. The first pumpkin he ever entered in a competition weighed 623 pounds and he has been refining his method ever since.
Connolly begins the process in the winter by networking with other pumpkin growers for the best seeds. In April he plants the seeds inside his home, then moves them to a greenhouse a few weeks later and then transfers them to the dirt in his backyard.
Connolly described the process of growing record-breaking pumpkins as a lot of "fretting about and fertilizing."
The best-developed pumpkins in June are cross-pollinated and treated with care all summer, including being covered in white sheets, until they peak in the fall.
“They’re not going to win beauty contests,” Connolly said of the giant gourds he grows. “These are all weight contests.”
A crane and flatbed truck are used to transport the pumpkins from Connolly's backyard to weigh-in locations. If the pumpkin is rotted, it faces disqualification.
Connolly won $6,500 for his first-place finish at Topsfield. He said the pumpkins are edible but would taste “like cardboard” if used in baking goods. Connolly's pumpkin will be on display at the fair through the weekend and then moved to a zoo for display.
Connolly will take his last of this season’s gourds for a weigh-in this weekend and then take a few months off to recharge from his 20-hour per week hobby. He has set an even more ambitious goal for next season.
“Two thousand, five hundred [pounds] is right on the horizon,” he said.