PUBLISHED: 4:53 PM on Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Alaska grower harvests seeds of 1,019-pound pumpkin
KENAI - If you think carving a Halloween pumpkin is a tough task, try cutting into one that has walls 10 inches thick.

On Saturday, Nov. 4, J.D. Megchelsen of Nikiski carved his state record-setting 1,019-pound pumpkin at the Kenai Safeway.

"People have seen it from the outside, but now they'll get to see the inside," he said before cutting into the giant gourd.

The event drew a small crowd, including agricultural amateurs and master gardeners. Some had come for pumpkin meat to be used in pies and soups. A few had come to ask pointers, but all wanted to know how many seeds the behemoth would hold.

"Sometimes there are no seeds in them or there will be seeds, but they've already started to germinate," he said.

This, along with the enormous size of giant pumpkins, makes the seeds highly prized. They can fetch prices as high as several hundred dollars, and Megchelsen has seen both sides of this seed-seeking phenomena.

The pumpkin he grew this year was from a seed from the Wallace 1,068 - the same pumpkin that produced the 1,502-pound gourd grown by Ron Wallace of Rhode Island that broke the world record earlier this year.

It was Megchelsen's second Wallace 1,068 seed.

Now, after Megchelsen used that seed to sprout a new state record, he said it is his pumpkin's seeds that are being sought after.

"A lot of people want them," he said.

Megchelsen said he would like to be able to give everyone who has requested one a seed, but that's just not possible.

As someone who knows firsthand the difficulties of growing pumpkins in a cool climate with a short growing season, he said he will likely give preferences to those facing similar challenges.

"I'll cater to the northern growers. I've got three guys in Sweden - top growers - that want some. There's a guy in Belgium and a couple in England. If they want seeds, I'll give it to them first," Megchelsen said.

After Megchelsen gutted the gourd there were only 12 seeds that could be used.

Despite the effort he put into growing the prize-winning pumpkin, Megchelsen said taking a knife to it wasn't emotional for him because it didn't signify an end. Rather, with seeds in hand, Saturday's event signified another beginning.

"I've got to get ready for next year," he said.