CAMPTON HILLS – As far as Tom McIlvaine is concerned, even at 710 pounds, this year’s giant pumpkin is too small for much pride.
His record was 1,241 pounds in 2014.
This year's record is 1,588 pounds, grown by a man in Bavaria, Germany, but according to the website largest.org, the largest pumpkin grown was in 2016 and weighed 2,624.6 pounds, in Ludwisburg, Germany.
McIlvaine, who said he has been growing giant pumpkins since 1999, blamed Mother Nature – a record rainfall and then it being too cold – three years in a row.
Plus, this year, he didn’t plan his Atlanta Giant pumpkin seed until Father’s Day, when usually he plants it by Mother’s day.
“I lost 30 days of growing, plus the cold weather,” McIlvaine said.
McIlvaine’s pumpkin and five other oversized ones are on display at Wasco Nursery, 41W781 Route 64, Campton Hills. A 665-pound one is on display at Windy Acres Farm, 37W466 Fabyan Parkway, Geneva Township.
McIlvaine grows his pumpkins in an area set aside just for him at Wasco Nursery.
McIlvaine said he hauled in 35 to 40 yards of manure – if you’re figuring by weight, it’s 700 pounds for a cubic yard of compost – for this 710-pound pumpkin.
That’s a lot of … manure.
Kayla Kauffman, greenhouse manager at Wasco Nursery, said McIlvaine gets his manure from a nursery neighbor who grows cattle.
“He grows all his pumpkins there,” Kauffman said. “He is very proud of his pumpkins.”
After Halloween, McIlvaine said he will cut into his pumpkin to “explore and analyze it” then will save the seeds for the future or sell them to Wasco customers next spring.
McIlvaine has his eye on a prize-winning pumpkin – but for another year.
“Like the Chicago Cubs or the Chicago Bears – next year,” McIlvaine said.