Mountain Green resident breaks own record with giant pumpkin
By Tyler Quigley
Sept. 29–Morgan County was well represented again this year at the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers GIANT pumpkin weigh off. Mountain Green resident Matt McConkie has once again proven that he is, in fact, a giant pumpkin growing genius. McConkie broke the state record again for heaviest pumpkin. This year’s pumpkin weighed in at 1,974 pounds, just short of crossing the one ton barrier.
Now McConkie wears the title of four-time state record holder in the unique, but fun category of Utah’s heaviest pumpkin. His first state record was set in 2010 when his pumpkin weighed in at 1,169 pounds. His other state records were in 2011, 1,600 pounds and in 2014, 1,817 pounds.
The seed he planted to grow this year’s record setter came from last year’s North American record setting pumpkin, which was grown by Dick Wallace in Rhode Island weighing 2,261 pounds.
The seed was started indoors in McConkie’s Mountain Green home in early April. Then a few weeks later, the plant was transplanted outdoors into his little 2,000 square foot greenhouse in Washington Terrace. In this climate-controlled environment, the plant was well cared for and grew to cover over 1,000 square feet. Only this one pumpkin was left on the plant which was fed a daily nutritious diet of McConkie’s own special blend of organic and non-organic fertilizers.
One secret McConkie will reveal about growing a giant is that you need good soil. He is proud to say that he used compost from Morgan County’s own Wild Valley Farms, which provided the nutrients necessary to feed this beast. McConkie said, “Having great soil is important, but so is doing a little bit of work each day from spring to fall.”
The other 1,000 square feet in the greenhouse is currently covered with another plant with one pumpkin still attached to the vine. This pumpkin will be weighed on Oct. 7 at another one of the club’s competitions which is sanctioned by the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth at Hee Haw Farms in Pleasant Grove. The estimated weight of this second pumpkin is 1,500 pounds.
Not only did McConkie crush the competition this year, but he got his 12-year-old son Eli McConkie involved on the growing team. Eli helped care for the third plant at the pumpkin farm, which weighed in a second best in the state 1,477 pounds!
Of Eli’s involvement at the farm Matt said, “Eli is a hard worker, he loves to get down in the soil and pull weeds and do what it takes to make things look good and run well. He is also a big fan of driving the tractor!”
When Eli was asked what he is going to do with his 1,477 pound pumpkin, he said, “I think I’m going to sell it and probably buy a mountain bike.”
Another neat thing that happened with this year’s competition was when 82-year-old Brigham City resident Ross Bowman was inducted into the Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers Hall of Fame. This is an honor bestowed upon those who have made a significant contribution to the sport of growing giant pumpkins. Bowman has grown nine pumpkins over 1,000 pounds in his 12 years of growing these Atlantic Giant variety of pumpkin. This year his entry was 954.5 pounds.