Many of us remember the “Great Pumpkin” from our childhood as an animated television special from the mind of Charles M. Schulz, the creator of “Peanuts.”
In the story, Charlie Brown’s friend, Linus, would forego trick-or-treating and instead sit in the local pumpkin patch, awaiting the Great Pumpkin, who would, according to the “legend,” rise up out of the pumpkin patch he feels is the most sincere.
Well, Ryan Morrison, of Post Road in Fayette County, has grown an extremely large pumpkin for the second year in a row.
Last year, his 880-pound pumpkin garnered seventh place at the Circleville Pumpkin Show.
This year, on Wednesday, Morrison’s entry, a bulging 783-pounder, placed fourth on the opening day of the show at the Giant Pumpkin Weigh-off.
To be eligible to take a pumpkin to the show, one has to live within a 21-mile radius of Circleville, Morrison noted.
“We live 20 miles from Circleville,” Morrison said. “This was my second year growing giant pumpkins. This year, my weight went down almost 100 pounds, but, it was such tough growing conditions for everybody that I was able to improve (my standing).
“I used drip-tape irrigation and watered it, roughly, during the main part of summer when it was really hot, roughly 100 gallons a day,” Morrison said. “I used a lot of fertilizer, fungicide and insecticide.”
One might think you could make a couple of hundred pies, or more, out of a mammoth pumpkin the likes of this. However, that is not the case, according to Morrison.
“No one’s going to eat it,” Morrison said. “It’s not really considered a pie pumpkin. There are special varieties of pumpkins for pies and things.
“With this one, I will harvest the seeds out of it,” Morrison said. “I’ll cut it up with a Sawzall and collect and dry the seeds out. I’ll give them to anybody who wants them and I’ll donate what’s left to the Circleville Pumpkin Club, of which I’m a member. We sell seeds at the Pumpkin Show, that’s how the club makes their money for prizes and things like that.”
Morrison, who has a degree in agriculture from The Ohio State University, has been something of a pumpkin aficionado for some time.
“I always enjoyed going to the Pumpkin Show,” Morrison said. “My wife and I would go and we would look at them. I was always fascinated. I never thought I could grow one to take.”
When he found out he lived within the specified area, Morrison said, “Well, that sounds kind of fun. I think I might try to grow one. That was two years ago and I took it to the show last year.
“Ideally, you will start you seeds in the house at the end of April,” Morrison said. “About mid-May, you take them outside and put them in your prepared soil and get them going. I give roughly 1,000 square feet per plant. This year I think I did 30 x 35 (feet).
“To get a pumpkin that big, it takes a lot of plant material for photosynthesis,” Morrison said. “A pumpkin plant wants to produce as many as possible, so you have to go along during the year and cut off all the female flowers that will want to make multiple pumpkins on one plant. You want all of that plant’s energy to put its efforts into growing this one, big pumpkin.
“I harvested mine on Monday,” Morrison said. “Got it loaded on Tuesday and we drove it to Circleville (Wednesday) morning.”
Bob and Jo Liggett had the biggest pumpkin this year, weighing 1,421.5 pounds.
Mark Litz had the second-biggest at 1,174.5 pounds and Bella Liggett’s pumpkin was third at 1,130.5 pounds.
The Pumpkin Show runs every year beginning on the third Wednesday in October through that Saturday.