“It’s taller than last year,” Jim Fredricks said while sitting next the giant gourd Friday.
The Atlantic Giant pumpkin has been growing for 46 or 48 days and is estimated to weigh more than 600 pounds. It grows about 12 to 15 pounds a day.
If all goes well, in another two weeks, this pumpkin may be close to last year’s record of 779 lbs.
“If she keeps growing and weighs heavy, we could be in the 800-pound range,” Fredericks said.
Fredricks has a pumpkin patch all set up inside the Mission del Magnolia Mobile Home Park. It looks like a fairy tale land with huge vines and leaves measuring three-feet wide.
Last year, one of Fredricks' pumpkins broke the county record. He hopes this pumpkin grown from a seed of a 1400-pound pumpkin cross with the seed from another 1400-pound pumpkin will repeat the feat.
Pumpkins like long, mild days, according to Fredricks. Overhead watering and covering the grow area with a shade cloth are other tricks of the trade.
The really, really huge pumpkins don't normally come from this region. "All of the world records come from up north," according to Fredericks.
If this year's pumpkin is a record-breaker, he’ll take the seeds and share them with other growers.
“I do it for the sheer fun. Just to see something grow so big,” he said. “A little tiny seed to over 13 feet around... it just amazes me.”
He's even got a friend growing a similar-sized pumpkin in the same patch. That pumpkin isn't as large yet though. It's estimated to weigh about 500 pounds.
It's not really possible to tell just how heavy a pumpkin is until you weigh it. Tape measures can help estimate. Some growers say you can tell by thumping the pumpkin from the outside.
“You never know until you weigh it,” Fredericks said.
The test will be in about a month when he gets nine other men to lift the pumpkin up on the scale.