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Lawrenceville man shoots for world record tomato plant

Lawrenceville resident Brad Richner’s giant tomato plant produces enough cherry tomatoes to fill a container of Cool Whip daily. (Special Photo: Katie Morris)

Lawrenceville resident Brad Richner’s giant tomato plant produces enough cherry tomatoes to fill a container of Cool Whip daily. (Special Photo: Katie Morris)

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Lawrenceville resident Brad Richner has to tie his 14-foot tomato stalk to his gutters and chimney to prevent it from breaking. (Staff Photo: Katie Morris)

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Lawrenceville resident Brad Richner has to climb a ladder to tend to his massive 14-foot tomato plant. (Staff Photo: Katie Morris)

LAWRENCEVILLE — Lawrenceville resident Brad Richner is just four and a half feet away from being in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Richner remembers planting a knee-high tomato plant next to his house three months ago and saying a prayer over it. Now he stands and gazes up at his chimney where the massive 14-foot-tall plant is tied off.

The tomato plant is growing taller every day, and Richner is hoping before the season is over it will have grown enough to beat the world record for tallest tomato plant.

“If it can get to 19.6 feet, I’ll beat the guy in the Guinness Book of World Records,” Richner said. “I think I have a chance because the first frost in Georgia isn’t until October, so it still has plenty of time to grow. It’s grown from the gutters to the chimney in a week and a half.”

Richner knows he faces a few challenges if he wants to beat the world record.

“It’s a race against time and weather,” Richner said. “I’ve had to use screws and tie it off to the gutters because once it breaks, it’s done. We had a lot of wind about a week ago, and I thought that’d be it but it held strong. It’s been a real trip.”

“I’m looking for a giant to come down any day now,” he said. “It’s just like ‘Jack and the Beanstalk.’”

Richner planted the Bonnie super sweet hybrid cherry tomato plant in nothing but dirt, sand and woodchips and then used shingles to keep the weeds out. He waters it daily and hasn’t used fertilizers or chemicals, except BT to keep the insects away.

Not only has the tomato plant grown to a gigantic height, it also produces a good amount of cherry tomatoes.

“Every day, especially when the sun is out, I can go out and pick a whole Cool Whip bowl full of tomatoes,” Richner said. “I’ve ended up giving a lot of them to my neighbors.”

This isn’t the first time Richner has proven he has a green thumb. About 30 years ago he said he grew a tomato plant grew to be two stories tall.

“I grew a tomato plant from a seed back around 1978, while we were living in an apartment at Fort Stewart,” Richner said. “Once we transplanted it into the ground, it just started growing and didn’t stop. I ended up tying it off from my daughters second floor window. It must have followed me.”