Squashing the competition: Pacific student wins prize at National Pumpkin Weigh Off
University of the Pacific student Ashton Beattie ’25 has grown his share of giant pumpkins, but this year’s pumpkin squashes the rest.
The computer engineering major cultivated a gargantuan gourd at his home in Lodi weighing in at 1,310 pounds. The pumpkin placed 13th at the National Pumpkin Weigh Off in Wheatland, California, earning him $700 in prize money.
“It’s the biggest one I’ve grown so far,” Beattie said. His pumpkin-growing prowess was featured shortly before the weigh off in San Joaquin Magazine.
Beattie says he enjoys growing giant pumpkins partly for the competition—but also for the reactions.
“There’s the aspect of people seeing your pumpkin and not believing how big it is. It’s a nice experience taking pumpkins to a weigh off and having people see them,” he said.
Beattie grew his first giant pumpkin at the age of 11, which weighed in at 572 pounds. Since then, he has grown a handful of others when he can find the time outside of schoolwork.
Cultivating giant pumpkins requires careful attention throughout the growing process to make sure plants are healthy.
“It's a combination of a lot of different factors that need to come together if you want to grow a really big pumpkin. Everything has to go right,” he said.
Beattie took samples of his soil and had them analyzed in a lab to ensure it had the proper nutrients and carefully monitored his plants throughout the growing season. In the future, he plans to put his engineering knowledge to use to help with the process.
“I want to draw more of a connection with that because a lot of my time this year was spent running around watering and moving sprinklers. I want to try to automate that process,” he said.
Outside of growing pumpkins, Beattie stays busy at Pacific with the Solar Car Club, a student-run club building a vehicle that will run entirely on solar power.
“We've made a lot of progress,” Beattie said. “I'm on the electrical team, so we've been working on designing the solar array and electrical systems for the car. Everyone's been working together to get the project done.”
Once he graduates, he plans to pursue a career in embedded systems engineering.