It’s only fitting that the month ending in Halloween began with a new record for the heaviest pumpkin in North America. Grown by Scott Andrusz and his family, it won the title Saturday at the Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence, New York, after weighing in at 2,554 pounds.
The retired Lancaster farmer was initially only aiming to beat the New York record of 2,517 pounds, according to The Buffalo News. But his pumpkin quickly passed the national record of 2,528 pounds, earning him a $5,500 prize and the honor of his gourd being displayed at the farm’s fall festival through Oct. 16.
While Andrusz beat the 2018 national record, his gourd fell short of the Guinness World Record of 2,707 pounds, set last year in Italy.
He’s been growing pumpkins since 2019 and plans to retrieve the winning gourd’s seeds when the festival is over. He came close to winning once before, but a pumpkin he grew to compete in 2021 cracked mere days before its intended harvest.
“Finally, just so incredible, it’s the culmination of a lot of hard effort for me and my sons,” Emmett and Steve Andrusz, the father told Gothamist of the large pumpkins. “I love standing next to them to see them all. They’re just so amazing to me.”
Andrusz told Gothamist the vine that nurtured his pumpkin stretched across a 40-by-40-foot patch of farmland. He said he spent several months pruning the pumpkin’s vines to ensure only a few gourds were growing, as well as removing bugs and fungi.
Andrusz, who plans to use his prize money for new soil, said wild creatures were the biggest hurdle in protecting the pumpkin from damage. He said “all the animals and critters,” including cats and raccoons, “want to eat on it” — and said cats “think it’s a big couch.”
“Don’t plan on doing any fishing, that’s what I used to do,” Andrusz advised aspiring pumpkin-growers in his interview with Gothamist. “But now when I concentrate on pumpkins, I sure don’t do much else but concentrate on pumpkins. They keep you up all night, you worry about the critters running around out there and all that.”