Atlantic Giant Pumpkin: how to grow it round

wayne_perrier(z9 CA)March 12, 2004

New forum ! Wow ! Well, might as well kick it off. I've purchased some Atlantic Giant Pumpkin seeds from Howard Dill (anxiously waiting for them to arrive) and am essentially trying to get a 300 to 400 pounder. I've ordered a book called "How to grow world-class giant pumpkins II" and am also waiting for this to arrive. I'm not trying to break any records here, but want this for Halloween. I'd like the pumpkin to grow nice and round, not flattened like many of the large ones I've seen. Are there any techniques or Do's and Don'ts to allow this to happen ? Thanks in advance.

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little_rhody(z6b RI)

Thanks Spike!

Hi Wayne,

I think that the shape of the pumpkin mostly is determined by genetics. So plants seeds that come from nice round pumpkins! Also we put large peices of styrofoam under the developing pumpkins, to prevent rot.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 12:11PM
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yooperjon(Up Mi. z4/5)

Hey Wayne,
I have never grown giant pumkins my self (yet). But I was reading your post and was thinking that pumkins are kind of like huge water ballons, whatever angle they are sitting on will probable influence their shape to some degree. Try sitting them upright on level ground when they are young and see how that works for you.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 12:30PM
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Yes, both above are correct, in saying genetics play a big part in what it will look like, but the environment also helps it some. Though, putting a pumpkin upright, will help it, it will also put some stress on the vines, and seeing you don't want an absolutely HUGE pumpkin, this should not be a problem. A 300 pound pumpkin should be easy to get, especially for your first year. I am crossing my fingers that I will get a 600 pounder my first year, but that will be a LOT of work, not to mention money :~)


    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 12:52PM
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wayne_perrier(z9 CA)

Thanks for the replies. John, why would it be alot of money to get a large pumpkin ?

    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 12:57PM
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I'm with Wayne, I want big pumpkins, but I want them to be 'pretty' ;)! Is the AG the way to go, or is there a better variety that will ensure a big Jack-o-lantern? This will be my first year trying to grow a big one!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 1:06PM
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wayne_perrier(z9 CA)

I should mention that I spoke with Howard Dill's son on the phone when I ordered and he told me that their goal is pumpkins that look like pumpkins. I'm anxiously waiting for my book to arrive.

I am reluctant to stand the pumpkin upright as I understand that the stems are quite delicate. I could see it twisting off partway through the year.....

    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 1:10PM
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fish emulsion, soil amendments, and coldframes :)

If you just want big jack-o-lanterns, try burpie's prizewinner, I have heard of people getting 230 pounders if treated, and fertilized well. :~)

You can get NICE BRIGHT orange Giants, but, again it is all about genetics. Some GP's are white, some are light orange, some are dark orange, and some are even a combo of all of them, not to mention the squmpkions, an orange pumpkin with green running through it, UGLY! Sometimes they are not allowed to enter in Weigh-offs.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 1:13PM
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every year I plant these either weather is too wet or too dry or groundhog gets them.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 1:59PM
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Hello! I'm new to GW. I grew Burpee's Prizewinner last year. I got two pretty big pumpkins on one vine. But when I went to pick them up, they just fell apart in my arms. We had so much rain here in Virginia that they rotted away. Same thing happened to my Blue hubbard squash. Burpee's Prizewinner has nicely shaped pumpkins. I grew them before in a good weather year and they were pretty with a nice orange skin. Sandy

    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 4:20PM
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Maybe you could try growing them on a pallet, like the type used for shipping. This would allow airspace underneath to prevent rot, and a convenient way to lift them up with a forklift or pallet jack.


    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 7:10PM
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uncron1(z6 OH)

Ordering from the Dills was a good move.
The 300 to 400 lb. crosses should give you a nice pumpkin assuming you have grown pumpkins before.
You have no doubt seen the premium seed list at his site
This is where you will need to know about genetic backgrounds to pick a seed that will be round and orange
Many competition growers grow the ugly flat and weird colored pumpkins because they grow the heaviest biggest pumpkin for contests where only weight matters.
Right now I think the best pick for orange and round is the 603 D. Dill
Prize winner is ok for a nice 200lber but if you want a chance at eye popping weights and people asking you if it's real AG is where it's at.
As for the amount of money spent, that depends on how far you want to take it. You'll need fertilizers, insecticide and fungicide. Giant pumpkin growing can be addictive!
If you want to find out more go to and get the inside scoop on the giant pumpkin growing world.
They even have a new growers forum.
Hope this helps,
Ron R.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 7:22PM
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beanboy(6 MA)

Looking for a 100-300 pound pumpkin that has the traditional shape and color of a Jack O Lantern.

So far, it seems Prize Winner from Burpee is the best bet. What about Big Moon and Big Max? How do they compare? Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 11:20PM
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rainydays(4 WI)

Ahhh you guys are talking about my favorite hobby. Growing Giant pumpkins that look like pumpkins. It is controlled alot by the genetics. You also influence the shape by the position of the pumpkin to the vine. Most of the pumpkins I grow are a brilliant Orange color. I place my pumpkins on a bed of sand with Mill Wire. Keep them well shaded so the skin doesn't mature early then towards Mid September give them a good rub down with olive oil and let the sun turn them orange.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Big Pumpkin Diary

    Bookmark   March 12, 2004 at 11:46PM
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wayne_perrier(z9 CA)

Hi Ron: thanks for the info. The ones I ordered from Howard Dill were "7 seed from 500-700 lb. specimens". I called them up and talked to Howard's son and told him what I was looking for; he told me that aside from growing prize-winners, their goal always has been to get something that actually looks like a pumpkin.

I've been to too and it's a great site. I initially tried to order seeds there but wasn't able to do so, so I searched out Howard Dill and ordered from him -- figure that it's best to go to the source.

I grew 5 pumpkin plants last year, but they were the Jack O'Lantern variety and did reliably produce 10 pound fruits, as advertised. I won the pumpkin-carving contest that my company put on last year, so this year I thought that I'd really dazzle em. This year, I have allocated an east-facing hillside (my entire property is an east-facing hillside) to grow one or two AG plants. I've allowed about 5000 square feet for them to sprawl, if necessary. This area is covered in grass -- I've dug two three foot diameter holes in our hard clay soil to place the pumpkin soil mix. I plan on getting that soil ready over the next few weeks. I'm still waiting for my book to arrive next week so I can "get it right".

RainyDays, thanks for the info. Looks like you are into this in a really big way. Congrats ! What exactly is Mill Wire ?

    Bookmark   March 13, 2004 at 12:17AM
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birdz_n_beez(z5-6 NY)

Big Max will give you the pumpkin you are looking for.
If you are going to be growing big, but not giant kins, you can set them on their bottoms for nice round development, you just have to make sure you do this early enough so that the vine is still slightly pliable.
I grow AG's and you can either place them on a pallet with something covering the pallet like cardboard or a thick tarp (otherwise the pumpkin can grow into the slots), or you can get some help, GENTLY lift small pumpkin and put a few shovles full of sand under it to lift it off the ground (only lift enough to get the shovel under it). As the pumpkin grows you'll need to add sand so that the pumpkin doesn't end up falling off, or tipping onto the ground. Using either method is generally enough to prevent rot, and discourage borers.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2004 at 8:16AM
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5,000 square feet? Sounds like you got enough room for up to 8 (well pruned) plants! I wish you luck!


    Bookmark   March 13, 2004 at 8:16AM
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Hello Folks,
From the previous posts, several people express some concern about the stems pulling off as the pumpkin grows large.

I recall reading a book written by Bernard Lavery, "How to Grow Giant Vegetables". In it, Mr Lavery described how he grew a tremendously long carrot (some 12 or 14 feet long) by planting it in a split pipe filled with dirt, that was tied at one end at the top of a fence. The carrot grew in the soil down the length of the pipe.

It seems to me that a similar arrangement can provide support & nutrition to a stem (which also throws roots at the nodes) for the giant pumkin/squash. Though I haven't tried it, I get the feeling that it may be the way to go.

I would like to read what others discover about it.


    Bookmark   March 13, 2004 at 12:38PM
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rainydays(4 WI)

To prevent the stems from getting stressed you put a large curve in the vine. Then as the pumpkin grows it will naturally take the curve out. I try for 5 feet of curve. I also put empty milk jugs under the vine to push them up. Mill Wire is a porous window screen like material used in the paper mill factories. It allows the pumpkin to slide as it grows. It also prevents little creatures from digging into the pumpkin from underneath. Another Reminder I am often told this is not a beauty contest it is a weight contest. The Ugly ones are normally heavy and vice versa. If you need seeds contact me, and send a Self addressed stamped bubble pack. Shannon

    Bookmark   March 13, 2004 at 8:38PM
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wayne_perrier(z9 CA)

John: I know 5000 square feet sounds impressive, but it's not the *best* growing area. Alot of it receives shade during various parts of the day and there's only a small part of it that doesn't get shade. Also, it's all on a 20 degree slope, so there are some challenges inherent in that (like moving the pumpkin later). Of course, if I grow a really big one and it somehow comes loose, the neighbors at the bottom of the hill may be in for a big surprise ! Imagine one of those rolling through your living room window !

One issue for me is that we regularly get hoards of marauding deer on our property and I wanted to fence most of the pumpkin plant in, so this kind of rules out planting a whole bunch of them. I am not sure, do deer like pumpkin vines ? They seem to eat everything else....

One thing I forgot to mention was another reason that I want to grow some of these pumpkins -- for my son. He's a little young right now (16 months), but I would think that being a kid, watching a giant pumpkin growing in your backyard would be the coolest thing ! So he's the main reason that I'm doing it, although the pumpkin carving contest should be fun too !

    Bookmark   March 14, 2004 at 12:09AM
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wayne_perrier(z9 CA)

AG pumpkin seeds arrived today ! Thank you Howard Dill ! Can't wait !

    Bookmark   March 15, 2004 at 11:00PM
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oldgrafter(7b-8a Lyman, SC)

Believe it or not you can get your pumpkin or watermelon or cantalope or squash to grow into any shape that you want. I saw a research film on how easy it is to grow (I kid you not) pumpkins and other vine grown goodies into different shapes by growing them on top of different forms. They could even grow faces on pumkins using masks as the form. The young fruit or vegetable grows into the shape it's resting on. You would have to make a rounded platform for the giant pumpkin to rest on while it's growing and it should take on the shape of the platform instead of just flattening out. Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2004 at 3:38PM
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Interesting, but it would have to be HUGE for an AG!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2004 at 4:22PM
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natureboinc(z7 NC)


They weren't giant pumpkins by any means, but I grew some regular types on a chain link fence, and was surprised that the vines held the pumpkins just fine. They weren't very frail at all.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2004 at 9:05PM
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wayne_perrier(z9 CA)

"How to Grow World-Class Giant Pumpkins 2" arrived today. I also ordered Volume 3. A word of warning when ordering from Amazon: if you specify a certain volume, they won't tell you that there are other, more recent volumes. I found out that there was a volume3 when I visited Howard Dill's site. So I've ordered that one too; thinking of returning Volume2. Any opinions ? I also asked in another thread about how "cookable" AG pumpkins are (in other words, if you made some pies, would they taste good?). Does anyone know ?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2004 at 1:48AM
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little_rhody(z6b RI)


alot of growers I know don't eat the giant pumpkins because of the chemicals used to treat pests and disease. We try not to use chemicals. When the weight offs are over and seeds have been collected, the pumpkins are fed to the animals. I have some puree in the freezer from last year but I haven't made a pie out of it yet! I grow pie pumpkins too.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2004 at 7:37AM
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birdz_n_beez(z5-6 NY)

AG pumpkins are great for cooking. I also have used fairytale, pie, jack be littles, actually, I think that I have tried every pumpkin I have ever grown as a pie. The only time I didn't like it (that I can recall) was when I used a green variety.
I don't used chemicals on my plants, only organic.

Hope this helped. =)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2004 at 11:14AM
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douglas14(z3/4 MN)

I find the subject of giant pumkins fascinating.
I'm tempted to try and grow one, as I have several nephews and nieces that may enjoy it. I'm leaning toward smaller types, such as Prizewinner this year. I'm wondering, as Beanboy was, about the differences between Big Max, Big Moon, and Prizewinner.


    Bookmark   March 21, 2004 at 6:01PM
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pumpkin_man(z7 MS)

I think if you ever try the giants you won't go back to the smaller pumpkins.The vines can grow a foot a day and the pumpkin can grow 20 to 40lbs a day.Truly amazing.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2004 at 6:23PM
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wayne_perrier(z9 CA)

My attitude on this is that I'm not trying to break any world records. I just want a pumpkin in the 300 to 400 pound range to make a giant Jack-O'Lantern out of. While there may be other pumpkins that *can* grow to this range, it's kind of like the Carolina Cross watermelon. Sure, the guy who holds the world record for that variety grew it to 260 or so pounds, and I'm sure that someone has grown Prizewinner pumpkins to 300 pounds, but there's no way in hell that'll be me. I'd probably get one half that size or smaller, just like the Carolina Cross, which I am growing this year. If I get one that breaks 100 pounds, I'll be ecstatic. For the pumpkins, I figure that my best chance of getting a 300 pounder is with Atlantic Giant, it's in the genes. I'm not a professional at this, so I have to set my expectations lower and take all the help I can get. If I grew a Prizewinner pumpkin, I'd probably get 100 pounds, max. Just an opinion; trying to stack the deck in my favor.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2004 at 10:56PM
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My best last year was a Prizewinner at ~150# but none of them lasted long thanks to Isabel and wettest summer in years. They all rotted before halloween except for the smallest ~10 pounders. Trying to grow a "round" pumpkin greater than 200# might be to much to ask as they sag under their own weight. vgkg

    Bookmark   March 22, 2004 at 1:11PM
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Babah(z5 Canada East)

Have been trying to grow giant pumpkin for a couple of years now, I only got one to grow a mere 62 lbs. but it did make for beautiful pies. The best ones yet!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2004 at 9:53AM
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I have 4 AG's planted this year along with 4 prizewinner's. This is totally an experiment as I have not grown these before. Last year I grew what was merely labeled as Jack-O-Lantern pumpkins and the largest was 42 lbs. Put the Big Pumpkin bug in me and so trying to break 100lbs. this year. Does anyone know how the AG's do in Texas I am in zone 8 and have no one that I know with any experience at trying Giant Pumpkins.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2004 at 10:48AM
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I live in Southern California. I'd like to grow AG Pumpkins. I don't think it's too late, is it? Hot weather still for several months.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2004 at 5:18AM
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douglas14(z3/4 MN)

In the book "How To Grow World Class Giant Pumpkins III", by Don Langevin(2003), the Texas state record is listed at 620 lbs. The best growing range for the Atlantic Giant Pumpkin in North America, seems to be the northern half, or so, of the U.S., and the southern part of Canada(I got this info. from "How To Grow World Class Giant Pumpkins II, also by Don Langevin).
I hope this helps.


    Bookmark   May 21, 2004 at 5:37PM
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kristie73(z5 Co Springs)

I recently planted some Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin seeds. This is my first time trying to grow pumpkins. I don't even know if we planted them right, but we are watering and hoping some will sprout and then I guess we are supposed to cut off the bad ones and keep the good ones. We don't really have them on a hill, I just built up the area a little with dirt. I hope it wasn't too late to plant them either. I'm in San Diego inland so hopefully it will stay hot enough and we might have a pumpkin by Halloween. I have a 19 month old and I thought he would like watching it grow.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2004 at 2:36PM
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So, it must be nearing harvest time . . . how did the pumpkin growing go?

Maybe I'll have to put AG on my wish list (-:.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2004 at 5:49PM
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wayne_perrier(z9 CA)

fabmadamem: I never did manage to find the time to plant the pumpkin, unfortunately. In my case, it's not the planting, but I would have had to build an electric fence to keep the deer and raccoons out, and I just couldn't make the time this year, because I'm putting a new roof on my house (almost done...). I'll be planting next year.

However, you should checkout Douglas's thread. He's managed to grow a pretty big AG pumpkin. If you've got kids, I think that a giant pumpkin is just about the best thing that you could grow ! I'll definitely be growing one or two next year ! best of luck !

    Bookmark   September 24, 2004 at 2:23AM
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Oh, I can relate to that. (Not having time to plant.) I have seeds that are five or six years old that I'm sure will have at least a 10 percent germination rate left in them, if I can ever get them in the ground. This summer, I planted almost all of my old pumpkin seeds directly out in piles of aged manure -- and got a really miserable germination rate. But the seven plants that made it (out of nearly 70 seeds, I'm sure) grew really well -- we were blessed with great weather this year.

Next year, I'm going to start the pumpkin seeds in pots where I can keep an eye on them. And maybe I'll even get the blueberries in the ground (they've only been in a pot for two years -- I hope they survive one more winter in the green cellar). Thanks for the tip -- I'll take a look at Douglas's thread. Good luck next year! M.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2004 at 10:52PM
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WesleyAnne(z8 NC)

Hi. I am saving some seeds from my Halloween pumpkin to plant. Do you have any suggestions for cleaning the seeds? Or even when to plant them? Any other tips are welcome too! I am new at this! Thanks and Happy Halloween!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2005 at 2:04PM
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I ordered some giant pumpkin seed. I want to know if it is To late to plant them to try to get a record breakinjg pumpkin?



    Bookmark   May 16, 2006 at 7:39PM
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hi, ive started growing a dills atlantic giant . ive transplanted it in my garden, the plant is still small but seems to have some small blossoms on it already. Is that bad?

    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 3:09PM
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I'm getting ready to grow an AG pumpkin, and have been pilfering through forums searching on this subject. However, transportation of a bohemeth pumpkin from my backyard to my frontyard, would also prove very challenging... but I had an idea. My son has 5 of those round bowl snow sleds. Why not put the pumpkin in one of those, and then, I would think that 3-4 big guys could hold it steady and slide it across the grass, and into my front yard. I'm trying it. Our goal is to carve it!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2011 at 3:05PM
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