Ron Root, a 51-year-old from Citrus Heights, is the reigning champion of the 38th annual Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-Off on Monday. He won last year with a 1,535-pound Atlantic Giant pumpkin.
How do you feel about defending your title? Well, I’m bringing a bigger pumpkin than last year’s; I don’t know what it will weigh until we hit the scales, but it will be pretty tough this year. I saw a couple pumpkins down in the Santa Rosa area that are just potential world records.
How in the world does one manage to grow a pumpkin that large? The biggest thing is the seed we use. They are Atlantic Giant pumpkin seeds. That’s the biggest thing. The genetics are in a lot of these seeds already.
What do you do with them? When we get done with the contest, we take them back to the farm here and display them for the whole month of October for the school children and everyone else who comes here.
How did you get started growing these giants? I was injured several years ago and I was sitting in my chair. I saw at the Elk Grove Harvest festival a guy named Gary Miller bring a pumpkin that weighed 1,280 pounds. I thought, “You know what? That’s something I can do.”