While it may not break any records, Dr. Vic Roberts’ nearly 500-pound pumpkin is certainly the largest he’s ever grown in his five years as a hobby farmer.
Robert’s, his wife Lisa and son Ben aren’t looking to compete with their oversized gourd that would make Linus and Charlie Brown jump for joy. Roberts says he’s just in it for the fun and challenge of growing giant gourds on their farm near Lake Lawtonka.
“It’s a hobby for us. I do it because it’s there,” Roberts said. “We don’t sell them, but mostly use the pumpkins for displays and to give away.”
Robert’s grew the pumpkin on his family’s hobby farm, Smiling Sky Farms, and said it takes a lot of water and patience. Roberts began growing this giant in August — getting a late start after a storm and high winds destroyed his earlier attempt. Robert’s said he plans to harvest the pumpkin and add it to a fall display that he and his wife set up every year that includes multiple varieties of pumpkins.
Roberts said this particular variety of pumpkin is the Dills Atlantic Giant, a common variety on the competitive pumpkin circuit. His pumpkin measures in at 86 inches x 84 inches x 98 inches and weighs 480 pounds. The current record in Oklahoma is 893 pounds set by a Daniel Snyder of Claremore in 2018.
Roberts said regardless of how big his pumpkins grow, he has no intentions of entering contests or beating records. He’s just having fun.
“It’s just fun to do,” said Roberts, who is an emergency room doctor in Lawton. “It helps me relieve stress and it’s something we can all do as a family here. I’ll keep trying different methods every year to get bigger and bigger, but in the end it’s just for fun.”
Giant pumpkins are grown for weight, not necessarily for size, and during peak growth the pumpkins can add as much as 50 pounds of weight per day
According to Roberts and other growers, there are a few basic tenants to cultivating giant pumpkins: Keep them at the perfect temperature, give them continuous food and water, protect their delicate skins from drying and cracking and cover them at night for warmth. Competitive growers also prune their pumpkin plants, reducing their fruit to a few prized gems.