Family grows giant pumpkins for fun

October 13, 2009 (HARVARD, Ill.) "When the frost is on the pumpkin and the fodder's in the shock" is how a poem written by James Whitcomb Riley began. It's a verse that tells about the joys of autumn.

The Davidson family of Harvard, Ill., has been dairy farmers for more than 50 years. That's their business, but their hobby is growing giant pumpkins-- and this is peak harvest time. So, for Larry Davidson and his son, Terry, it's heavy lifting time.

Larry Davidson of Davidson's Giant Pumpkins, who has grown big pumpkins since 1983, said that it is not unusual to have a 50-pound pumpkin. Several pumpkins a year can be up to 500 pounds and can cost $200 or $300. However, Davidson also sells small pumpkins for just a few bucks.

"I started back in 1980 trying to grow a big one for the kids and in 1983 we took one out to the first world weigh off in New York and I placed about fiftieth," Davidson said with a laugh. "Yeah, after that and we've been growing them ever since."

Larry has never set the world record -- that's more than 1,700 pounds -- but he has discovered that there is a market for monster pumpkins with scary prices. What do people do with 500-pound pumpkins?

"Oh, they put them on display, they want to have the biggest one in their block," Davidson said.

When James Whitcomb Riley wrote his poem "When the frost is on the pumpkin," he wants us to not worry about winter but enjoy the beauties of fall. The frost is on the pumpkin and the fodder's in the shock. What is 'the fodder's in the shock?'

"The fodder is the cut corn in the shock and that goes to feed the cows in wintertime. That's when it's standing out in the field tied up," Davidson said.

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