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Farmer Hoping to Grow ‘Great Pumpkin’

September 24, 2003

WOOSTER, Ohio (AP) _ One pumpkin growing on Winston Wyckoff III’s farm might be Ohio’s biggest, ever.

Wyckoff, 40, farms nearly 1,000 acres in Wayne County with his father, along with some helpers. He plans to take the great pumpkin in his truck to Barnesville in Belmont County for the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival competition this weekend.

Wyckoff has a hunch this one could come in at 1,200 pounds.

If it does, it would be Ohio’s biggest recorded pumpkin, beating the 1,140-pounder that Dave Stelts of Leetonia grew in 2000.

``I have not slept well since the end of August″ out of concern about his pumpkin’s safety, he said.

He worries the recent rain may cause the pumpkin to split.

Tuesday night, with the temperature predicted to drop into the 40s, Wyckoff planned to cover it with eight blankets.

Wyckoff won the Barnesville competition the last two years, with a 797.5-pound pumpkin last year and an 844-pounder the year before. Wyckoff is the eighth generation to farm on what is Wayne County’s oldest farm continuously operated by one family.

The farm, on which Wyckoff raises corn, soybeans, and wheat, along with pumpkins, takes in parts of three townships: Canaan, Chester and Congress. Wyckoff took up pumpkin growing there in 1996.

This year’s monster pumpkin began as a seed from Wyckoff’s Barnesville-winning pumpkin from 2001. He planted it May 1 in the farmhouse, and about 10 days later, he moved it and 10 other pumpkin plants outside.

Wyckoff pollinated the blossom by hand on July 5 using flowers he grew from the seeds of a pumpkin from New York state.

``This is a hobby,″ he said, ``but to go to this extreme, it’s a passion.″

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