Last year he achieved a world record with a giant pumpkin of almost 1,200 kilos. This year, his largest pumpkin will probably ‘only’ reach 900 kilos. “Of the giant pumpkins I planted, three unfortunately perished due to the changeable weather this season. I have one left now,” says Mathias Willemijns from Belgium. He works for the Provincial trial centre for vegetable cultivation East-Flanders. He calls his pumpkin cultivation a ‘hobby that got out of hand.’
The pumpkins grown by Mathias are still edible, but are usually not eaten by people. “After a competition, the pumpkin is taken apart, and the seeds are kept for the next batch. The flesh is usually given to the animals. Smaller sizes are more flavourful, larger pumpkins contain too much water.” The ‘secret’ behind the size is taking good care of the plant, according to the grower. Each plant has to reach a maximum leaf surface of 80 m2 as quickly as possible, and besides, there can be only one fruit per plant. The other fruits are systematically removed. “It’s important to give them plenty of water and correct plant food. Additionally, the seed of the pumpkin is very important, the genetic background has to be good. The plant has to be kept healthy, and it has to be treated with chemicals as little as possible, to spare the natural enemies.”
Last year, Mathias became World Champion for growing the heaviest pumpkin. “I’m joining the GPC competition again this year. It’ll be in the Netherlands in two weeks. I don’t expect another world record, but I estimate my pumpkin will be harvested at about 900 kilos this year. I have done competitions for nine years, and besides a world record, I also have a Belgian record. That’s once again my aim!”
Please click here for the website of the NK Pumpkin Growing (website in Dutch).
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