There’s something about pumpkins that brings out the kid in most people. Perhaps the most intriguing pumpkins of all are the big varieties. Big pumpkin varieties are most often used for decoration, carving and contests to see who can grow the largest. Growing big pumpkin varieties begins with selecting the right seed.
The largest pumpkin variety in the world is Howard Dill’s Atlantic Giant. These pumpkins have been grown for over 30 years with one record pumpkin grown in Canada weighing in at 1,006 lbs. Vines of the Atlantic Giant can grow as long as 90 feet long and the pumpkins can gain as much as 15 lbs. each day. The skin of the Atlantic Giant is pinkish-orange which pales in comparison to traditional jack-o-lantern pumpkins. When it’s time to harvest Atlantic Giant pumpkins, it may take half-a-dozen people to pick them up out of the field.
Big Max pumpkin varieties can grow in excess of 100 lbs. and have a bright orange skin that can be up to 4 inches thick, making them great for storing. The bright orange flesh is commonly used for cooking and baking, although is somewhat watery and requires draining after cooking. Once planted, Big Max pumpkins typically are ready to harvest within 120 days. These are perfect for carving, decorating, pies, canning and freezing.
Big Moon is another pumpkin popular for its large size and is comparable to Big Max, although Big Moon seeds produce larger pumpkins with a darker skin. The flesh of Big Moon pumpkins is pale and typically not used for eating. Big Moon has a germination rate of three to five days and reaches maturity in 120 days of planting.
This is another bright orange pumpkin that can grow anywhere from 20 to 100 lbs. These pumpkins are typically round, with the skin somewhat ribbed. The Mammoth Gold is most commonly used for making jack-o-lanterns. The flesh of Mammoth Gold pumpkins is orange, and, in addition to it ornamental value, it is also used in making pies. These seeds upon germination reach maturity in 105 to 120 days.
Prizewinner pumpkin seeds produce round pumpkins uniform in size and shape. The skin is smooth and rich orange in color. These big pumpkin varieties typically weigh 100 lbs. and reach maturity within 120 days of planting. Prizewinner pumpkins are good for decoration, carving, cooking and eating. While Prizewinner pumpkins are not the largest of the big pumpkin varieties, they do produce big pumpkins and according to the University of Illinois Extension, they are the most dependable.