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Heavyweight gardening: Pictou County’s Tom Dudka places fourth at Windsor West Hants Pumpkin Weigh-off

Tom Dudka directs a forklift unloading his giant pumpkin. The pumpkin weighed 1,080 pounds and will be on display at the Aberdeen Sobeys in New Glasgow.
Tom Dudka directs a forklift unloading his giant pumpkin. The pumpkin weighed 1,080 pounds and will be on display at the Aberdeen Sobeys in New Glasgow. - Adam MacInnis
NEW GLASGOW, N.S. —

Linacy’s Tom Dudka has a new personal best.

This past weekend, Dudka’s pumpkin named B.J. tipped the scales at 1,080 pounds – 29 pounds heavier than his last year’s personal best named Trump. The gigantic gourd was good enough for a fourth-place finish at the Windsor West Hants Pumpkin Weigh-off.

Gerard Ansems of Steam Mill, N.S. took first place with a pumpkin that weighed in at 1,714 lbs.

While Dudka is happy with the results, he said he wishes two other pumpkins he grew could have made it, but they both developed soft spots, which could have disqualified them. He estimates his largest pumpkin was around 1,240 pounds based on measurements.

“It could be the weather, could be too much moisture,” Dudka said. “I lost two of them for soft spots. It’s not worth taking the chance because you can get down there and they disqualify you. They have to be in good shape.”

Pumpkin growers had lots of adversity to deal with this year, from a late spring to damage from Dorian.

“They were all premature. They never did their full cycle.”

Dudka said Dorian in particular seemed to impact him with his pumpkins coming to an abrupt halt in their growth.

Dudka wasn’t the only Pictou County pumpkin grower at this year’s competition. Fraser Murray of Caribou also competed and had a pumpkin that weighed 524 pounds. Dudka said it’s nice to have another representative from the area.

“Finally, after 15 years somebody is interested.”

Dudka’s giant pumpkin was transported to the Aberdeen Sobeys on Monday where it will become part of a display at the front of the store. Dudka is encouraging people to come in and see it and sign their name on it. He’d like to get 1,080 signatures on it.

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