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BIG PUMPKIN

Familys giant squash gains 30 pounds a day


by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTOS: DOUG BURKHARDT - Its one big happy family for Ryan and Christine Behnke of Forest Grove, their daughter Karalynn and their giant pumpkin. All are headed to Tualatin Saturday with this and one other pumpkin for the annual Terminator Weigh-Off.When most people look forward to fall, they dream of corn stalks, crispy leaves and jack-o’-lanterns.

Ryan and Christine Behnke dream of taking their nearly 700-pound pumpkin to Tualatin, hollowing it out, stepping inside and paddling it down a river fast enough to cross the finish line before other squash-sailors.

The Forest Grove couple is entering two pumpkins in the 14th annual Terminator Weigh-Off and one of them in the “Paddling a Pumpkin” races Saturday.

Ryan entered the Weigh-Off a few years ago but back then, his pumpkin was only 515 pounds. He won an award for a first-year grower, but this time, estimating his largest pumpkin at 686 pounds, he’s prepared for a chance to win it all.

Ryan is realistic, though, knowing the record for pumpkin weight spans into the thousands of pounds.

But growing pumpkins since he was a kid has taught him a thing or two. Ryan prunes the vines so there’s only one pumpkin per plant. That way, all the vine’s energy goes into one giant pumpkin, he said. He also feeds the plant seaweed extract, water-soluble calcium, 10 gallons of water per day, and twice the recommended amount of MiracleGro.by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTOS: DOUG BURKHARDT - Its one big happy family for Ryan and Christine Behnke of Forest Grove, their daughter Karalynn and their giant pumpkin. All are headed to Tualatin Saturday with this and one other pumpkin for the annual Terminator Weigh-Off.

Ryan estimates his largest pumpkins put on as much as 30 pounds a day. Last year, he didn’t have a pumpkin to enter because they were growing so fast they split down the middle.

Other challenges include fighting off cucumber beetles and powdery mildew.

The pumpkins are grown in a field behind Pacific University. Ryan needed help from Parr Lumber’s Bryan Mead to get the pumpkins into his truck for transport. As a token of appreciation, Ryan gifted the Parr Lumber office one of his smaller ones — a mere 380 pounds.




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