ABOVE: Will this giant pumpkin stave off the competition and claim the world’s largest pumpkin title? At 1,725 pounds, it would take a hefty competitor to roll it out of the top spot.
CANTON, Ohio — There are pumpkins and then there are PUMPKINS.
Christy Harp, of Jackson Township just outside Canton, has grown a pumpkin that deserves all the emphasis it can get. The 1,725-pound behemoth Harp grew is believed to be the world’s largest ever recorded and will likely retain that title if it can survive a couple more weigh-offs, including the famous Circleville Pumpkin Show, Oct. 21-24.
Rumor has it a grower may present one in the 1,700-pound range, but whatever happens, Harp and her family are living the thrill of being record holders, if only for a few weeks.
“I almost passed out, and it was a really happy feeling,” Harp said, after learning of her pumpkin’s official weight at the Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers weigh-off in Canfield.
The 27-year-old is a math teacher at Jackson High School, where she’s become somewhat of a celebrity. She’s been featured on the major Cleveland broadcast channels and her name has appeared in newspapers across the country. She’s hoping her story will be shared on The Today Show, if she can maintain her claim to the world’s largest.
Out to beat husband
Whatever happens, Harp has already won a major battle — conquering the friendly rivalry with her husband, Nick.
The two met just a few years ago attending The University of Akron and discovered a common interest — growing giant pumpkins. They now spend hours a day during the summer on Harp’s grandparents’ farm, where their goal is to out-perform each other and the previous year.
“We kind of grow together, but it’s more of a competition between us,” she said. “Now that we’re married, we are growing in the same patch, (and) it’s pretty much his plants versus my plants.”
However, her husband has his own bragging rights. He grew the state-record tomato at more than 7 pounds.
Harp’s grandmother, Betty Gross, said he often gardens through part of the night, with a lighted headband helping him see.
“They just try something new every year,” Gross said. “It’s amazing what they do.”
Gross recalled with delight, the day her granddaughter harvested the pumpkin and realize it would probably set the record.
“She screamed like you wouldn’t believe: ‘I’ve got the world’s record!'” Gross remembered.
Gross and her husband, Charlie, maintain a 40-acre crop farm and keep the giant pumpkin protected in an undisclosed location.
Water and manure
The Harps have no particular secret, other than using a controlled irrigation system and conditioning the soil with compost and cow manure, and planting good seeds.
The hobby can become expensive, Harp said, but is one she and her husband enjoy.
Their ultimate goal is “just trying to make your personal best higher each year,” she said.
But now that’s she’s produced the world’s largest, doing better won’t be easy.
“I don’t know how I’m going to top that next year,” she laughed.