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Morgan County residents dominate giant pumpkin competition

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Two Morgan County residents set impressive records on Saturday, Sept. 27 at Thanksgiving Point during the 25th annual Utah Giant Pumpkin Growers (UGPG) giant pumpkin weigh-off. Rain poured down like a river from heaven as giant pumpkin growers from around the state and their fans gathered to see who had grown the biggest pumpkin. The weather did not dampen the spirits of the contestants as each of them in turn placed their prize pumpkin on the scale from smallest to largest. Tension mounted and there was an electricity in the air as the final pumpkin of the day was gently placed on the scale. When the weight was revealed, the crowd went wild. It was like Rocky I. Mountain Green resident Matt McConkie did it again. McConkie set another state record this season with a 1,731 pound giant pumpkin. Setting state records is not new to McConkie. This is his third state-record pumpkin. In 2010 he set a record with a pumpkin weighing 1,169 pounds, then in 2011 he shattered that mark with a pumpkin weighing 1,600 pounds. After the dust settled and the celebratory Gatorade was poured on McConkie’s head he said, I’m in heaven! I love big pumpkins! McConkie’s 12-year-old daughter Jane said, I am super excited and proud of my dad. I was surprised he beat his record. He thought it was only going to be 1,300 pounds. McConkie didn’t set records in 2012 and 2013 because he took two years off to rest and strategize on how to grow an even bigger pumpkin. He wanted to be able to compete with the heavy hitters around the globe who compete each year in this amazing sport. A new world record was set earlier this month by Beni Meier in Switzerland: 2,096 pounds. McConkie currently sits in sixth place in the world rankings. Seventeen-year-old Morgan County resident Wade Schmid represented the county well as he grew a pumpkin weighing 947 pounds and finished sixth place in the state. Schmid was the youngest competitor to finish in the top 10 this season. The most mature competitor was 79-year-old Ross Bowman, of Brigham City, who finished in fourth place with a personal best 1,204 pounds. This was also Schmid’s personal best in his third year growing. Like McConkie, Schmid spent much time in the off season researching which seeds to plant and how to prepare his soil with just the right amount of nutrients to help him almost join the UGPG’s Half Ton Club. The good news for Schmid is that McConkie grows his pumpkins at an undisclosed location in Northern Utah that is not in Morgan County. So, Schmid now enters the Morgan County record books as growing the largest pumpkin ever in Morgan County soil. Schmid said, I was hoping it would hit 900 pounds. Both Schmid and McConkie start their seeds indoors in mid to late April. In the first part of May the seedlings are then transplanted outside into the carefully prepared soil. Many hours per week are spent caring for the plants then the pumpkins. You can almost see the pumpkins grow as they put on as much as 40-50 pounds per day during peak growth. You can learn more about growing one of these monsters by talking with the experts from right here in our county. Their club website at www.utahgiantpumpkingrowers.comhas information on how to grow as well. Congratulations to Matt and Wade, who represented Morgan County well and lived up to the UGPG motto, Grow BIG or Go Home.

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