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Wayne's Word Noteworthy Plant For January 1996

The World's Largest Fruit

A Squash Or A Pumpkin?

Because of the considerable controversy generated by the recent WAYNE'S WORD article about the Wild and Wonderful World of Gourds ["Gourds As Codpieces Among Other Uses For The Gourd," Vol. 5 (No. 3) Fall 1996], it is necessary to clarify and update the section about "The World's Largest Fruit." According to Cucurbits, the official journal of the World Pumpkin Confederation, a 1993 record-breaking pumpkin weighed in at 836 pounds and a giant squash tipped the scales at just over 700 pounds. One year later at the "Gourd Olympics" at Port Elgin, Ontario the reign of the pumpkin was finally broken by a 900 pound squash. Then on October 7, 1995, a TV news program reported a new world record-breaking pumpkin weighing 939 pounds. Much to the dismay of squash lovers, the pumpkin was once again crowned the undisputed world's largest fruit. But was the short-lived reign of the squash really broken? In the search for the truth, WAYNE'S WORD contacted the international headquarters of the World Pumpkin Confederation in Collins, New York. According to the editor of Cucurbits, Ray Waterman, this latest pumpkin record was not entered in an official WPC contest. In fact, the largest pumpkin recorded for 1995 by the WPC was 789 pounds, 47 pounds shy of the 1993 award-winning pumpkin and 111 pounds shy of the 1994 award-winning squash. Furthermore, many of these unofficial contests are conducted without specific rules governing the proper weighing of pumpkins, including carrying devices or tarps and calculation of tare weights. In addition, the actual determination of squash vs. pumpkin must be uniformly established, otherwise these unofficial contests are meaningless. With all due respects to the pumpkin, the record for the largest fruit in the world still goes to the 900 pound squash.

NOTE: When this article was first uploaded and placed on-line in the winter of 1996, it appeared that the squash had clearly beaten its long-time rival, the pumpkin, and was indeed the world's largest fruit (at least according to contests sponsored by the World Pumpkin Confederation). But finally, on that fateful day of October 5, 1996 at the official World Pumpkin Confederation weigh-in at Clarence, New York, the pumpkin once again regained its title of the world's largest fruit. Not only did a record-breaking pumpkin beat its 900 pound squash rival of 1994, but it also broke the 1,000 pound barrier where no pumpkin or squash had ever gone before. For their remarkable 1,061 pound mammoth pumpkin, the lucky growers received a grand prize of 50,000 dollars. In another pumpkin contest held at Canfield, Ohio in October 2000, a pumpkin weighed in at 1140 pounds. In October 2002, a pumpkin was reported from Manchester, New Hampshire with an astonishing weight of 1337 pounds.

A field of pumpkins.

You are probably wondering what really constitutes a pumpkin or a squash, and are there any rules governing this world class rivalry? As it was stated in the WAYNE'S WORD gourd article, the general terms pumpkin and squash have no precise botanical meaning. They may refer to any of the New World species of Cucurbita pepo, C. maxima, C. moschata or C. mixta; however, many popular pumpkins are varieties of C. pepo, and the largest pumpkins probably come from C. maxima. Generally, the hard-rind varieties of squash and pumpkins are best for baking. To enter your giant pumpkin in the official World Pumpkin Confederation Annual Weigh-Off it must be cream-yellow to orange; if it is green to gray or mottled in color it must be entered as a squash. If these rules are not followed you will be disqualified. Also the vine must be trimmed to one inch from the stalk of the fruit, and the total weight cannot include any carrying device or tarp.

For a seed list, the WPC newsletter Cucurbits and more information about the World Pumpkin Confederation please contact the following addresses:

WPC Headquarters, 14050 Rt. 62, Collins, N.Y. 14034 U.S.A.

PHONE: (716) 532-5995 INTERNET:

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