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The race for 3000lbs, 2019 edition

For years, I (Joe), have been compiling data from the yearly top weight pumpkins as well as yearly top ten pumpkins to determine if historical information can help ballpark a prediction for when we'll cross the 3000lb barrier.  Over on the bigpumpkins.com forums, the question of "has the hobby reached a "genetic ceiling?" is routinely discussed.  It is an impossible question to answer given today's tools and information.  We cannot ask the giant pumpkin genome what its limit is.  Nor can we know what the perfect environmental conditions are for maximizing those genetics. The best we can do is look at historical data and see if it fits a quasi-predictive trend as well as continue growing giants to push max weights higher and higher.  Year over year data is starting to indicate some signs of tapering in the trajectory.  Those of you who have read my yearly summaries in the past know that data going back to 2005 nearly perfectly fits a linear curve.  When applying a linear equation to the 15 years of data, we get an r-squared value of 0.9308 (see graphic).  Simply stated- that straight diagonal line shooting up and to the right provides very strong evidence that top weights are headed in that same direction.  While the r value of this linear slope shows incredible correlation, there are some initial indicators that the "steepness" of that diagonal line is trending towards flattening.  Here's what I observed: having calculated the linear slope of this diagonal line every year, there have been small reductions in the slope each year following the 2016 season.  In 2017, the slope was 5% off of its 2016 high, 2018 is 1% off of 2017, and 2019 is 4% off of 2018.  All told, the 2019 slope is 9.4% off of 2016 high.  So what does this mean?  Hard to say.   3 years of declining slope could be completely random variation or it could mean our incredible growth curve is starting to flatten. When calculating for the top ten average, a similar trend emerges, however to a lesser degree: 2019 slope is only 4.1% off of 2016.  Using the 2019 linear slope, the equation predicts that the 3000lb barrier will be surpassed in the 2024 season, at 3035lbs. This is if, and only if, the current slope is maintained.

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