Big pumpkin weigh-off coming Saturday

Growers are getting set to weigh in at the Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off taking place at Frerichs Farm in Warren on Saturday.

But the Rhode Islander who holds the top two spots in the world for heaviest pumpkins won't be competing this year.

It was too stressful for Ron Wallace of Greene in 2012. He clinched the world record at the Topsfield Fair, tipping the scale with his gourd at 2,009 pounds!

The pumpkin he thought was bigger that he took to Warren competition came in at 1,872 pounds, big enough for second place in the world.

With Wallace out of the running this year -- he'll be back next year -- it opens up the field to other New England pumpkin growers to take the top honors.

In contention: Ed Giarrusso, from Prudence Island, who thinks one of his might come in at 1,350 pounds. But that's just an estimate.

"The (expletive) stops when the tailgate drops," Giarrusso said.

The pumpkins this year are not as big as last year's pumpkins, because of the weather.

"It was one of the most insane seasons I've seen in my entire life for growing just about anything," David Frerichs said.

First there was a wet spring, that was followed by a July heat wave, a little early, and then August was cooler than average.

"A lot of guys lost their pumpkins because they sucked in too much water. The end of June and the first week of July is when they pollinate their pumpkins, and if it's too hot, they'll abort," Giarrusso said.

Cross-breeding with squash is one key to the big pumpkins, said Frerichs, because squash weighs much heavier and is much thicker. Too much squash genetically mixed in with the pumpkin, though, gets you disqualified.

But you can't give enough TLC -- tender loving care.

"I give these guys a lot of credit for babysitting their pumpkins. I'm sure a lot of them put blankets on them at night and some of them might have even had some supplemental heat. Some of them actually play music," Frerichs said.

California had a great pumpkin season this year because of great weather there, with some growers using Ron Wallace's $700 a pop magic seeds to make a run at the heaviest in the world.

"With a track record that's hard to match," Frerichs said.

The Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off takes places at Frerichs Farm on Kinnicutt Avenue in Warren this Saturday starting at 11:30 a.m.

Pumpkinalooza runs every weekend including Columbus Day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Five dollars a carload cover expenses at the farm. There's pumpkin painting and lots of activities too.

So there'll probably be no world records locally this year, but a 1,400-pound pumpkin is something not to be taken -- lightly.