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crops that grow in alaska

Crops that grow in alaska

“It really reminds me of Frankenstein’s laboratory,” Brown says. “If you were to go visit somebody who was growing a giant veggie for this fair, I think the thing that what would impress you is how much science and technology goes into this.”

Hopeful giant cultivators start their seeds in January, under grow lights in greenhouses. For months, they transfer their plants into larger and larger pots until May when the ground is finally warm enough for them.
“Let’s face it: You’re not going to win the Kentucky Derby with a mule or a Shetland pony,” says Robb, who holds five current world records for his large vegetables. “If you don’t have the right genetic material, you’re never going to achieve that ultimate goal.”

“It’s not something that we’re aiming for,” Boshears says of his fellow amateurs. “It’s something that happens.”
It’s “definitely a freak show,” the fair’s crop superintendent Kathy Liska, tells The Salt. “Some things [are so big], you can’t even recognize what they are.”
It’s Alaska’s summer sun that gives growers an edge, says Steve Brown, an agricultural agent at the University of Alaska Fairbanks who also serves on the fair’s board of directors. Basking in as much as 20 hours of sunshine per day, Alaskan crops get a photosynthesis bonus, allowing them to produce more plant material and grow larger. Brassicas like cabbage do especially well, says Brown.
Robb says he has high hopes for winning the title for some rutabagas he’s been cultivating, but he’s worried that fellow Alaskan and friendly rival Steve Hubacek could threaten his perch as the cabbage record-holder.
As the vegetable hotbed of Alaska, the town of Palmer has its roots in a New Deal-era program to bring Midwestern farming families north to establish an agricultural colony.

Not all fruits and vegetables thrive in Alaska. Watermelons and tomatoes, for instance, which love the heat, have a tougher time. But “there are Alaskans that will grow watermelons in greenhouses just to be able to say they did it,” Brown says.

Long summer days in Alaska help cabbages, turnips and other vegetables grow to gargantuan sizes. These "giants" are celebrated at the annual state fair, which kicks off on Thursday.