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Growers don’t bust record at pumpkin-weighing contest; but 1,969-pound winner is no small feat

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HALF MOON BAY, Calif. A rippled white whopper weighing in at 1,969 pounds (893 kilograms) took the title Monday for plumpest pumpkin at an annual San Francisco Bay Area contest.

Growers gathered with their gargantuan offerings to try to break the world record of 2,323 pounds (1,054 kilograms), which was set by a Swiss grower during a competition in Germany last year.

It didn’t happen.

But the winning entry at the Safeway World Championship Pumpkin Weigh-off in Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco, was no small feat. Steve Daletas of Pleasant Hill, Oregon, won $12,000 for his lumpy, 1,969-pound (893-kilogram) pumpkin.

“It’s been a good year,” he said after the contest. “I’ve never grown an official 1,900-pound pumpkin before.”

Forklifts and special harnesses carefully placed the massive pumpkins on an industrial-strength digital scale with a capacity of 5 tons as officials from the county agricultural commissioner’s Office of Weights, Sealers, and Measures kept close watch.

Second place went to Ron and Karen Root of Citrus Heights, California, for their 1,806-pound (819-kilogram)entry. A $500 prize also was awarded to the “most beautiful” pumpkin based on colour, shape and size.

With California in its fourth year of drought, some said the dry soil deflated their pumpkin-growing dreams.

“No doubt about it,” Gary Miller of Napa, the 2013 winner, told Bay Area news station KNTV. He entered a 1,303-pound (591-kilogram) pumpkin.

Last year, grower John Hawkley set a North American record with a 2,058-pound (933.5-kilogram) entry. He returned to defend his title, but his pumpkin registered 1,447 pounds (656 kilograms).

Organizer Tim Beeman said the contest kicks off the Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival this weekend.

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