Ross Bowman poses for a photograph while waiting for the crane to pick his last giant pumpkin on Friday, Sept. 24 2021.
BRIGHAM CITY – Ross Bowman, 86. a giant pumpkin grower in Brigham City was all smiles Friday when he loaded up his three huge gourds for the Utah State weigh offs at Hee Haw Farms in Pleasant Grove.
He hired a big crane to lift the pumpkins from his garden to his truck and trailer. One pumpkin filled the back of a pickup truck, the other two were placed on the trailer.
It caused quite a commotion with neighbors with camera phones videoing the big event.
“Think I might have two that weigh 2,000 lbs. or more, the other one is close,” he said. “I’ve been growing them for 17 years and I did something different this year.”
At the weigh offs on Saturday, Sept. 25 the pumpkin weighed 2,142 lbs., another one at 2,047 pounds and the third 1,670 lbs. Two of Bowman’s giants crushed the state record of 1,974 lbs. set in 2017 by Matt McConkie of Mountain Green.
Bowman, a Utah State University educated rocket scientist, analyzed his last 16 years of growing and made a list of improvements he needed to make to his growing routine. The changes he made and the weather this year made a perfect storm for growing oversized gourds this year.
“You can’t keep doing the same thing year after year and expect to change the results,” Bowman said. “I found a mentor to help me, found some good seeds, gave them more water and added some protective covering, among other things.”
Bowman is not committing to doing it next year. He said growing the big things is a lot of work for someone his age.
Jim Seamons of Benson, the president of the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers, said everyone was pulling for him and he was pretty excited.
“This year we had more giant pumpkins than ever before and more spectators since we moved it to Hee Haw Farms,” he said. “Last year there were two weigh offs and the attendance wasn’t as good. I think maybe COVID was the reason attendance was down last year.”
Matt McConkie, who held three previous Giant Pumpkin records, gave Bowman some suggestions along the way that helped Bowman in his efforts to raise the record-breaking squash.
“After retirement, he wanted to bring smiles to the faces of those in town by growing giant pumpkins in his garden,” he said. “His corner garden is on the corner of 124 W. 400 W. in Brigham City.
“It was historic and pretty impressive he grew the first 2,000 lbs. pumpkin in Utah,” McConkie said. “I consulted with him, but he pretty much did most of it by himself. He beat my record of 1,974 lbs.”
This is the second state record giant pumpkin for Bowman. He was the record holder in 2018 with a 1,170 lbs. pumpkin. The current world record giant pumpkin weighed in at 2,708.8 and was grown in Italy.
“The way things are going, I think we will see a 3,000-pound pumpkin one day,” Seamons said.
The Utah Pumpkin Growers is a competitive pumpkin growing group that was formed 32 years ago. For most of the practitioners it has become an addictive habit.