LEWISBURG W.Va. (WVDN) – A dentist by day, Doctor Chris Rodebaugh spends his free time working to grow prize-winning fruits and vegetables, including giant pumpkins. Since beginning this hobby, Rodebaugh has competed in weigh-offs nationwide, securing multiple awards. One of the events he participated in was the first sanctioned Great Pumpkin Commonwealth weigh-off in the Mountain State, which occurred earlier this year.
Each season, Rodebaugh grows various plants, but his focus is generally the pumpkins. He stated, “This year, I grew tomatoes and, of course, large pumpkins. And I tried watermelons this year.” Rodebaugh continued, “The tomato I grew was the second largest ever in the state of West Virginia at 6.55 pounds. I took it to the local Cornerstone IGA and had them weigh it. They’re always wonderful. The watermelons, I grew maybe a 108 pounder, which sounds exciting and big, but it’s not. It’s not big compared to what other people bring the scale, but it was a starting point for me.” Additionally, different years have different yields, and speaking about his most current harvest, he said, “This year, I ended up with four pumpkins to scale.”
In addition to trying new fruits in his garden, Rodebaugh broke his personal best pumpkin weights in 2023. He said, “I broke my personal best twice. So my previous best was 1,965 and a half pounds. And this year, I broke that first with a 2,025.7 pounder. That’s my first ton pumpkin. And then about eight days later, I put my biggest on the scale, which was 2,144 and a half pounds.”
According to Rodebaugh, big things happened in the world of West Virginia giant growers this year. He stated, “Probably the most important thing that’s happened in West Virginia is we actually have a weigh-off now. [As I’ve said in the past] all the fruits I grow, or my father or any of my other growers in the state grow end up out of state. This year, we actually had a weigh-off in Craigsville, West Virginia, which is Nicholas county.”
Speaking about the new weigh-off in West Virginia, Rodebaugh said, “All the weigh-offs we go to or attend, are Great Pumpkin Commonwealth sanctioned weigh-offs. That’s the international body, the GPC and it’s very important for growers, like myself to want to attend those weigh-offs. We’re okay to go to local events like the Milton Pumpkin Festival, which is kind of a local event, but the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth sanctioned events like the one in Craigseville, are internationally recognized and are open to all growers from anywhere. The name of our event this year was the Wild and Wonderful Weigh Off and we had a total of 23 Pumpkins show up from six different states.”
When discussing his plans for growing next year, Rodebaugh said, “I learned a lot this season. Speaking about next year, yeah, absolutely. I’m going to try to make my plant size a little bit larger this past year and traditionally I run about 700 to 800 square feet per plant. And I’d like to bump that up to about 1000 square feet per plant and see if I can get a little bit more in root system backing and pushing that fruit to the finish line. another notable thing kind of cool is my new personal best at 2,144 and a half [pounds], it was grown from my previous personal best which was 1,965 pounds, which is pretty cool.”
The West Virginia Daily News will check in with Doctor Rodebaugh again next year to see what is new in his garden.
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