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U.S. farmer wins giant pumpkin contest with $12,000

Grower Tim Mathison was one of about 50 big pumpkin farmers to haul their heaviest crops to the annual Harvest Festival

Baku. 13 October. REPORT.AZ/ A Napa farmer took tops honors at a Northern California contest with a record-smashing 1,806-pound pumpkin that judges nicknamed 'The Flying Saucer' because of its distinctive wide and flat shape, Report informs referring to foreign media.

Grower Tim Mathison was one of about 50 big pumpkin farmers to haul their heaviest crops to the annual weigh-in at the Elk Grove Giant Pumpkin & Harvest Festival - a two-day event that draws about 40,000 spectators every year.

Most of the pumpkins entered in Saturday's contest were grown in about 90 days, sometimes growing as fast as 30lbs a day, said Brian Myers, chairman of the California Pumpkin Growers Association.

Most farmers waited until the night before to harvest their giant gourds. Once at the festival, each pumpkin had to be forklifted onto the scales for a weigh-in, reported the Sacramento Bee. 

There were about half as many pumpkins entered this year than in previous years, largely due to what farmers said were overly hot and suboptimal growing conditions.

Mathison collected $12,000 in prize money but he says the most important part of Saturday's event was sharing it with his 28-year-old daughter Tara, who uses a wheelchair and has a neurodevelopmental disorder called Rett syndrome.

Despite her debilitating condition, she was with him almost every night as he tended to his patch, he said.

He purchased the unique seed from which he grew the pumpkin from the Make-a-Wish Foundation, a charity that arranges joyful experiences for children with life-threatening conditions.

The winning pumpkin beat last year's monster pumpkin, which weighed in at 1,584lbs. 

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