World's Largest Pumpkin 2017: Is This 2,222-Pound Gourd From Belgium Enough to Break the Record?

A Belgian man has grown a one-ton pumpkin just in time for Halloween, but the gourd isn't quite good enough.

Mathis Willemijns won the European Pumpkin Championship on Sunday in Ludwigsburg, Germany, with a pumpkin weighing in at 2,222 pounds, according to Deutsche Welle. And while he beat the competition—the next-biggest pumpkin was 350 pounds lighter than his—Willemijns didn't beat the world record-holder: himself.

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Willemijns made headlines in 2016 for cultivating the heaviest pumpkin in the world, a giant that weighed about 2,625 pounds. But this season has been tough for the 24 year old who once said his pumpkin habit is a "hobby that got out of hand." Willemijns started out with three massive pumpkins for the competition and lost two of them due to bad weather, he told produce news site Fresh Plaza.

On August 6, Willemijns posted photos of a cracked pumpkin on his Facebook page and wrote "DAMAGE - Game over," balancing a Jupiter beer can on the plant to show the size of the rip in the pumpkin's skin. A few days later, he shared pictures of another split squash, writing "AGAIN" alongside two crying emojis.

The pumpkin that did survive needed thousands of liters of water and had to be transported to Germany on a trailer. Now that Willemijns has won, his monster pumpkin will be cut into small pieces and fed to animals.

As Smithsonian magazine points out, Europe—not the United States—is the place to be for competitive pumpkin-growing. The largest pumpkin stateside weighed just 2,261 pounds, much lighter than Willemijns's behemoth.

That's because the gourds thrive in the cool temperatures of Belgium and Switzerland. They swell even larger in high-tech greenhouses where professionals can control the conditions. Plus, as in Willemijns's case, big pumpkins beget big pumpkins. Star growers can use the seeds from their former winners to cultivate new ones.

"Basically it's like horse racing. We’re breeding big pumpkins into big pumpkins every year to create bigger pumpkins," previous giant pumpkin champion Ron Wallace told Smithsonian in 2015.

For most people, a 12-pound pumpkin will make a solid jack-o'-lantern. But if you want to get on Willemijns and Wallace's level, you can always buy giant pumpkin seeds for about $9. Just make sure you have a big knife—and dozens of hungry friends willing to eat your pumpkin pies.

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