St. Charles Man Grows Half-Ton Pumpkin

The monster pumpkin weighs a whopping 1,148 pounds

By Susan Ball
|  Tuesday, Oct 20, 2009  |  Updated 2:06 PM CDT
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Tom McIlvaine

Tom McIlvaine stands watch over his prize pumpkin.

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A St. Charles man has grown his biggest monster pumpkin to date -- weighing in at 1,148 pounds, 171 inches wide.

Tom McIlvaine, 51, of Wasco Nursery and Garden Center has been tweaking his pumpkin-growing methods for 14 years, when he was first inspired by an entry in the Guiness Book of World Records, the Daily Herald reports.  He said he has tended to his Atlantic Giant hybrid for nearly 40 hours a week since Mother's Day.

"It's like a full-time job," said McIlvaine.  "You have to stay ahead of it."

The giant pumpkin, a personal record setter for McIlvaine, grew at a rate of 34 pounds per day.  It took third place in the statewide Great Pumpkin Weigh Off in Prairie View and will be featured in an Oct. 25 parade in Sycamore, the Daily Herald reports. 

"I guess I just picked the right seed and the right chemical for it to germinate, McIlvaine said.  "I never had a pumpkin grow this much in such a short amount of time."

McIlvaine said he spends up to $600 on fertilizer each growing season, and often buys seeds from other award-winning pumpkins.  His goal is grow the world's largest pumpkin, a title currently held by an Ohio grower -- at 1,725 pounds.

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