World's largest squash 2011

World's largest squash set Guinness World Records by Joel Jarvis.

Joel Jarvis watched with the anticipation of an expectant father as his baby put on as much as 40 pounds a day.

The St. Thomas resident knew she was going to be a big one but never imagined in his wildest dreams that she would easily “squash” the world records.

His prizewinning squash tipped the scales at 674.3 kg or 1,486.6 pounds, easily eclipsing the old record of 560 kg or 1,234 pounds confirmed by Guinness World Records.

“This has been a long time coming,” Jarvis told the Toronto Star.

“I’m 38 and I have been doing this since I was 11,” said the horticulturist, who got his training at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro.

“Sometimes the wind blows the right way and the sun shines right.”

No matter how you slice it, this is a big deal in the world of oversized vegetables (or fruit). Word is that seeds from the world’s largest pumpkin last year, albeit there weren’t many, sold for more than $1,600 a piece.

“To be honest I might get $40 a seed,” said Jarvis, who figures his various prize money for having a record holder will add up to as much as $8,000 — including from the Giant Vegetable Growers of Ontario — and that will likely go toward a new van given that his family just expanded by one.

That’s right, he’s also the proud papa of a seven-pound baby girl, Rayna, who decided to arrive just as he was showing off his prize squash.

The added twist to the gargantuan squash is that it out-plumped the largest pumpkin at the Norfolk County Fair, which Jarvis also grew. It weighed a mere 1,426 pounds or 646.822 kg but fetched $2,000 in prize money at the fair in Simcoe, Ont. compared to just $300 for the largest squash.

As far as anyone knows in the 171 years of the Norfolk County Fair it is the first time a squash beat out a pumpkin, according to Karen Matthews, the fair’s general manager.

The heaviest pumpkin on record weighed 821.23 kg (1,810 lb. 8 oz.) and was presented by Chris Stevens at the Stillwater Harvest Fest in Stillwater, Minnesota, USA, on 9 October 2010, according to the Guinness Book of Records.

Jarvis says his squash is not genetically modified but is the result of cross breeding and a whole bunch of fertilizers and non-stop tender-loving care. It was planted May 6 and five months later voila.

“You start off with a little seedling and it grows the same length of time as a regular squash or pumpkin but as soon as you get it in the ground you are pushing it to the extreme with your fertilizers,” he said.

“Your nitrogen has to be quite high and also your phosphorous and that will push your roots. At that point you stop vegetative growth by pruning it and then concentrate on the fruit. At that point you up the potassium and calcium levels, which makes the fruit grow. You shut down the nitrogen, turn off the phosphorous and push that calcium (gypsum) and potassium.”

Jarvis said the fruit actually grew for about 90 days and “there were days that it was putting on average 35 to 40 pounds a day.

“That’s bad for people but when you are talking pumpkins and squash ... ” he said.

Jarvis said most people think that given its size the squash wouldn’t be edible, “but my wife (Kristine) made squash soup last year with ours (another whopper of a squash) and it was fantastic.
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