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Frum Takes Giant Pumpkin To Barnesville

By Leann Cochran - Staff Writer | Oct 1, 2020

Pictured is Keith Frum, the caretaker of the giant pumpkin.

Although fall festivals around the country have fallen victim to the pandemic, COVID-19 did not stop Keith Frum from growing an outstanding pumpkin. Frum has been growing huge pumpkins for about 15 years, with his personal best weighing in at a whopping 998 pounds in 2006.

Nurturing these pumpkins is a hobby for Frum, and take up much of his summer. Keith’s wife Barbara reported vacations and weekend getaways were nearly impossible to take because of the care the plant needs.

Frum reports the seeds are started inside, then brought out to plant in the soil. The plant continues to grow and develops separate male and female flowers. Pollen must be moved from the male flowers to the female flowers to make fruit. In order to prevent cross-pollination, these flowers are often kept covered to prevent bees from naturally pollinating them.

When it is time for the plants to be pollinated, the caretaker usually pollinates with flowers from the same plant to ensure the pumpkins are not crossed with any other type of plant. Surprisingly, if the pumpkin were to be crossed pollinated with, say, a squash plant, there would be no evidence until the following year when the seeds are planted.

Frum decided to open pollinate his plant this year. “The genetics means a lot in these pumpkins if you do it yourself, and I didn’t… For instance, if that pumpkin got to be 2000 pounds, that’s really good, but the seeds wouldn’t be valuable because it was an open pollination,” he said.

After the flowers are pollinated, the work begins. “I put ice jugs around it and kept it shaded for about three days. Sometimes you will even put a fan on it,” he said, saying that sometimes the plant will abort if they get too hot.

Frum said he pumps 80 gallons of water to the plant each day. It also needs to be sprayed with insecticides and fungicides to ensure a healthy crop.

“You would not believe the time that goes into this… hours and hours and hours,” Barb said.

These seeds don’t just produce big pumpkins, however. The vines stretch nine to twelve feet from the stump and wind throughout the garden. It is almost impossible to believe that it grew from a single seed.

The weight of the pumpkin can be estimated by measuring the circumference, and Frum reports this particular one measured at about 900 pounds, however he expected it to weigh more because it was crossed with a gourd. Frum says gourds tend to hold more weight.

Frum traveled to Barnesville last weekend with the great pumpkin in tow to see just how much it truly weighs.

The official weight turned out to be 952 pounds. “It’s been a successful season,” Frum said.