British Columbia

At 866 kg, 'papa bear' pumpkin crushes competition, takes title of B.C.'s heaviest

The organization in B.C. for growing giant pumpkins says a Richmond man has grown the biggest ever in the province, weighing close to 900 kilograms.

David Chan’s pumpkin is the heaviest ever recorded in the province, growing organization says

David Chan's 'papa bear' pumpkin was officially weighed at 1911 pounds (866 kilograms) at a giant pumpkin event in Langley B.C. on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021. It set a new record for the biggest pumpkin grown in the province, according to Giant Pumpkins British Columbia. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The organization in B.C. for growing giant pumpkins says a Richmond man has grown the biggest ever in the province, weighing close to 900 kilograms.

David Chan's 'papa bear' was among several giant pumpkins weighed at an annual event in Langley, B.C., on Saturday, hosted by Giant Pumpkins British Columbia.

Chan's pumpkin weighed 866 kilograms or 1,911 lbs. He also grew two other huge pumpkins, 'mama bear' and 'baby bear,' which earned him a special honour at the weigh-off for growing three pumpkins weighing a collective 1,811 kilograms (4,000 pounds) or more.

"I'm excited," he said about the honour. "I've been watering them six times a day for a total of 200 gallons (757 litres) of water per plant."

David Chan helps load his pumpkins named 'papa bear,' 'mama bear,' and 'baby bear' onto to a trailer in Richmond, B.C., on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021 so they could be transported to B.C.'s Giant Pumpkin Weigh Off in Langley on Saturday, Oct. 2. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Chan says he's been growing giant pumpkins for 40 years since seeing the giant vegetables on an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

He learned from the show that the seeds, called Atlantic giant, came from a farmer in Nova Scotia named Howard Dill. Chan sent a letter to Dill asking about growing giant pumpkins and Dill responded with seeds.

"And so we started growing them back then in a backyard," he said. Twelve years ago he acquired additional space, some 2,000 square feet, to grow pumpkins after moving to Richmond.

"I like the outdoors, I like growing things and I always like a challenge," he said.

Chan usually sprouts the seeds indoors in April and moves the seedlings outside in May, but with cover.

'Loved the heat'

This year, he covered his entire pumpkin patch with a greenhouse to increase the temperature, in which the giant pumpkins thrive.

"They really loved the heat, that's probably one reason why they got so big."

He also has an irrigation system to ensure the pumpkins are evenly watered. He says he grows pumpkins for the pure joy of it and for exercise.

"Everybody laughs in my backyard. It's just a fun thing to do. My garden is my gym."

Entries at the annual Giant Pumpkins British Columbia event in Langley B.C., on Saturday, Oct. 2. (Doug Kerr/CBC News)

Scott Carley, another grower and one of the organizers of the B.C. competition says the event helps children understand the importance of agriculture and food sustainability.

"To treat agricultural land as a positive thing," he said. "Just a good way to connect with kids for future generations."

Carley says no pumpkin in Canada has ever been grown weighing more than 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms).

On Saturday, a grower in Nova Scotia had a pumpkin he grew — named Howard in honour of Howard Dill — weigh in at 887 kilograms or 1,956 pounds, just three pounds below the Canadian record.

Chan says he will eventually carve his giant pumpkins for Halloween and display them in his driveway. Then he'll begin planning for the next growing season.

With files from Baneet Braich