Visitors to the pumpkin barn at the Canfield Fair last week may have seen the grand champion 891-pound squash of Frank Lanterman of Austintown. While he took top honors at the fair, he is looking for an even bigger win next month.
Lanterman, a Fitch Class of 77 grad, said he and his wife Michelle grow the giants as a hobby. They have a lot between their Austintown home and Lanterman's parents house that is big enough for three plants.
"Each plant takes between 700 to 750 square feet to make one ginat pumpkin," Lanterman said.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Frank Lanterman of Austintown took the title of grand champion squash at this year’s Canfield Fair with this 891 pound monster. It is one of three giants and for Frank, the competitions are not yet done.
He said the plant produces a vine close to 10 feet long. Only the one vine on each plant is nurtured to produce just one giant pumpkin.
Lanterman said when the vine flowers, the flower is hand pollinated. He knows the difference between the male and female flower. When the time for pollination comes, a giant pumpkin male flower center is cut out and the pollen is hand brushed onto the female flower. That flower is then tied shut so bees can't cross pollinate it.
He learned a lot of these secrets when he joined the Ohio Valley Giant Pumpkin Growers Association, in which he now serves as a director. The group holds the weigh-in for the world championship, which is scheduled for Oct. 13 at Parks Garden Center on Ohio 62 in Canfield.
"I have another pumpkin growing right now that I am hoping tops 1,000 pounds," Lanterman said.
He will enter that one in the October weigh-in and will treat it as he did the fair champion. He said he waited until Tuesday morning when the fair entries were due to harvest his winning entry. Whether he wins the October event or not, he said things will change when people speak of him now.
"People used to ask at the pumpkin weigh-ins who the guy is in Austintown that is raising the ginat pumpkins," Lanterman said. "Now that guy finally won."
He said the difference between a squash and pumpkin is color and the stem, which on a pumpkin is a hard part of it, but on a squash, it is soft and easily broken off.