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Citrus Heights giant pumpkin sets new state record

But it's only good enough for second place as Minnesota mega-gourd breaks world record at championship weigh-off

This pumpkin set a new world record, weighing 2,749 pounds, from Minnesota. Winner Travis Gienger and his family pose with the massive gourd at Monday's Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off.

This pumpkin set a new world record, weighing 2,749 pounds, from Minnesota. Winner Travis Gienger and his family pose with the massive gourd at Monday's Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off.

Photos courtesy Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off

The biggest California-grown pumpkin to ever weigh in at an official giant pumpkin contest came from the greater Sacramento area. But in a season of king-size pumpkins, this mammoth squash – 2,497 pounds – was only a runner-up. It took a world-record effort to beat it.

Representing Central Valley pumpkin hopefuls, Ron Root and Nick Kennedy of Citrus Heights hauled their gargantuan gourd to Half Moon Bay for Monday’s Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off.

They could have easily won Elk Grove’s Giant Pumpkin Contest, held Saturday and won by an Oregon-grown 1,941 pounder. (Russ Pugh took home to Eugene $7,000 from the Elk Grove contest.)

Instead, Root and Kennedy took their big boy to the Bay Area to see if maybe they had a record breaker.

They did. Shaped like a bean bag chair and the size of a couch, the striped Citrus Heights pumpkin set a California state record as the largest ever grown in the Golden State – quite a feat considering this was the 50th annual Half Moon Bay weigh-off to crown a pumpkin king.

For a while, the Citrus Heights pumpkin looked like an overall winner, but then officials hauled out the pumpkin that had traveled the farthest distance to the contest – an Atlantic Giant hybrid grown by Travis Gienger of Anoka, Minn.

A landscape business owner and instructor at Anoka Technical College, Gienger and his pumpkin team had driven almost non-stop from Minnesota to Half Moon Bay just in time for the weigh-off. He didn’t harvest his pumpkin until Saturday because these giants lose 5 pounds every day off the vine.

Ron Root and Nick Kennedy of Citrus Heights earned
a state record with their 2,497-pound pumpkin.

Gienger wasn’t a long shot; he was Half Moon Bay’s defending champion. Last year, he set a new America record with a 2,560-pound pumpkin that he also hauled cross country. But no one expected this result Monday (except for the folks tasked with lifting the pumpkin on the scale).

Gienger’s pumpkin weigh 2,749 pounds – a new world record and almost 200 pounds bigger than his 2022 American record setter. The old mark – 2,702 – was held by a pumpkin grown in Tuscany, Italy.

Watch Gienger’s reaction as his pumpkin is weighed, during live streaming of Monday’s weigh-off:

For its official photo, the winning pumpkin was adorned with a teddy bear wearing a Michael Jordan jersey – as the “greatest of all time” in the pumpkin department.

For his efforts, Gienger won $30,000 including a bonus for a new world record. As runners-up, Root and Kennedy earned $4,000 including a $1,000 bonus for the largest California-grown pumpkin.

For more on the championship pumpkin weigh-off:


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For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

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