The annual Alaska State Fair in Palmer, 42 miles northeast of Anchorage, is not your typical agricultural show. Growers here in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley routinely display vegetables and produce of enormous size a 138-pound cabbage,
a 65-pound cantaloupe and a 35-pound broccoli are just a few of the monsters that have emerged from Alaska’s soil in recent years. “Some things, you don’t even know what they are,” said Kathy Liska, fair crop supervisor. Alaska typically has a very short growing season, averaging just 105 days.
In addition, pods take about 300 days to grow in California. However, the Alaskan growing season does not have long dark nights. The state is located near the North Pole, where it enjoys up to 19 hours of sunshine daily.
It is only during the hot season that the sun shines and more is available to the earth, allowing Alaskan crops to continue to grow and thrive. Although the growing season has fewer months than the rest of the country, Alaska’s gardeners grow some of the largest vegetables in the world.
Photosynthetic stimulation also sweetens the produce. For example, the Alaskan carrot spends 3/4 of the day making sugar when the sun is present. Only the remaining 1/4 turns that sugar into starch. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, radishes, turnips, potatoes, beets, carrots, lettuce, and spinach grow well here.