'My wife thinks I'm crazy:' Grower of gargantuan fruit nabs new record with world's largest squash
At its peak, Joe Jutras said his squash was growing at least 18 kilograms a day
A Rhode Island grower is first in the world to achieve a trifecta in the hobby of growing gargantuan fruits: world records for heaviest pumpkin, longest long gourd and now, heaviest squash.
After previously breaking two records, Joe Jutras got his third on the weekend when he smashed the giant squash record. His green squash tipped the scales at 960 kilograms during a weigh-in at Frerichs Farm in Warren, R.I., on Saturday.
"I had pretty high hopes," he told CBC News, of the record winning squash. "[But] you never know until it's on the scale."
This particular squash was germinated in April and pollinated at the end of June. At its peak, Jutras said it was growing at least 18 kilograms a day.
His other titles came in 2006, when he broke the record for longest gourd, with a 3.21-metre gourd, and in 2007, when he broke the record for largest pumpkin, with a fruit that weighed in at 766 kilograms.
Both previous records have since been surpassed, but Jutras is the only grower so far to break world records in the three most competitive categories.
Jutras has been working on the trifecta for a decade, since his pumpkin win. He was close to the goal a few years ago, but then a squash on track to break the record split. Now 62, Jutras recently retired from his work as a cabinet maker to devote more time to his hobby.
His family joined him at the competition on the weekend. "My wife thinks I'm crazy sometimes," he said. "I'm looking at her right now and laughing."
He noted that others had won multiple world records for fruits and vegetables before, but in categories such as carrots and tomatoes that are not as competitive.
"[It's] like OK, you grew a big tomato. It's not like you went through growing the largest pumpkin or squash."
He credits a new soil cultivation technique and a seed from last year's world record breaker for this year's win.
Ron Wallace, a multi-time pumpkin record breaker, called Jutras's feat "unbelievable." He said Jutras's accomplishment showed the best of the hobby. "It's about people competing and pushing the boundaries," he said.
Jutras said the competitors are all friends and help each other out on "lifting day." They call it Fat Fridays, where they drive between their houses to get the mammoth fruits into a trailer using a harness and pulley system — they are too big to put in the back of a truck.
"It's a gentlemen thing," Jutras said.
The winning squash is headed to New York City, where it will be on display this month at the New York Botanical Garden.
In February, Jutras will receive a coveted "green jacket" honour for his squash record at the annual convention in Oregon of the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth.
"It's almost like the Masters," said Jutras of the honour. "At the end, you're winning the Masters, you get the jacket." He'll be joined on stage by previous winners wearing their green jackets.
Asked what he plans to do next after achieving the trifecta, he said he's been thinking about the bushel gourd.
"I think the record now is about 279 pounds," said Jutras, which is 126.5 kilograms. "That might be something I might want to get into a bit."
With files from CBC's Haydn Watters