Scott Carley knows how to grow them big.
The South Langley farmer has once again been credited with growing the heaviest pumpkin in the province, earning the auspicious title today at Krause Berry Farms.
The Langley farm and winery on 248th Street once again hosted the Official Great Pumpkin Commonwealth and Certified World Recognized Giant Pumpkin Weigh-Off event.
There were more than a dozen entries this year, the smallest weighing in at 228 pounds, and Carley’s not only earning him a personal best record, but broke the local, provincial – and potentially national – record weighing in at 1,543 pound.
The key, said the farmer, is not necessarily growing the biggest in size pumpkin, but growing the heaviest.
This year, he planted six plants – dedicating about 1,000 square feet each in a specially fenced off and protected garden in his family’s five-acre hobby farm near Highpoint Estates.
He initially planted his seeds in mid-April, but lost all of those to rot because of the wet spring. He started another batch of seeds May 14, putting them in the ground on May 22.
Maybe, he suggested, it was the late start that resulted in his success and today’s win.
Typically, he’s has pumpkins growing 60 pounds a day, but this year, it was only 40 pounds a day, and all but this one popped before weigh-in.
Part of the success, he said, might be his own blend of soil, and customized pest management program. Part of it, he suggested, might just be luck.
Carley admits to having a “strong background when it comes to farming and horticulture.”
Until recently, he’s spent at least six weeks of every year in Manitoba, where he’s grown both wheat and canola on his 2,600-acre farm.
But this year, due to a lack of available workers, he’s had to give up farming that land, opting instead to lease out the fields to other large Prairie farms.
So, his only crop this year was pumpkins.
And, growing big pumpkins appears to be evolving into a bit of a family tradition for the Carleys.
For the second time out, his mother, Marg, participated in the weigh-in, hers tipping the scales at 860 pounds – topping her personal best, set last year, of 500 pounds.
Likewise, Carley’s three-year-old daughter had her own water this year.
She still a little young to do much more than help Dad water, he said. And sadly, her pumpkin popped before it made it to competition size.
Nevertheless, Carley said they’ll keep trying as a family.
For him, trying to grow the biggest pumpkins is just a pastime.
“I needed a hobby. I don’t really like watching TV,” he said. “And I’m always looking for something positive I can do, that can involve the kids.”
As his prize pumpkin was moved into the feature spot at the entry gate to the Krause farmgate store and winery, Carley watched as kids and adults alike flocked to get their pictures taken with the gigantic gourd.
Looking at the smiles on several young children’s faces, he turned and said “That’s why I do it. That’s what it’s all about.”
His prize winning huge pumpkin will remain at Krause’s through the Halloween season.