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Thompson & Morgan hope to smash pumpkin growing record after paying £1,250 for a single, super-sized seed

PUBLISHED: 09:48 08 March 2016 | UPDATED: 09:48 08 March 2016

Swiss grower Beni Meier, left, cheers after the announcement of the weight of his pumpkin at the European Championships in pumpkin weighing in Ludwigsburg, Germany, in 2014

Swiss grower Beni Meier, left, cheers after the announcement of the weight of his pumpkin at the European Championships in pumpkin weighing in Ludwigsburg, Germany, in 2014

It is hoped the world’s biggest pumpkin could be home grown on UK soil after an Ipswich-based firm paid out £1,250 for a single, prize seed.

Thompson & Morgan experts with the super seed from the worlds largest pumpkin alongside a traditional seed -  
Kris Collins and Paul Hansord Thompson & Morgan experts with the super seed from the worlds largest pumpkin alongside a traditional seed - Kris Collins and Paul Hansord

It is hoped the world’s biggest pumpkin could be home grown on UK soil after an Ipswich-based firm paid out £1,250 for a single, prize seed.

A bidding war at the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth World Conference led to the record-breaking payout from seed and young plant supplier Thompson & Morgan, in Poplar Lane.

It went head to head against the world’s pumpkin growing elite and was the eventual successful bidder, bringing the two-inch long seed to Suffolk and hopes the world record pumpkin weight title could come to the UK.

The £1,250 selling price beats the previous £1,171 record price set in 2010.

Thompson & Morgan experts with the super seed from the worlds largest pumpkin alongside a traditional seed 
Commercial director, Paul Hansord Thompson & Morgan experts with the super seed from the worlds largest pumpkin alongside a traditional seed Commercial director, Paul Hansord

Paul Hansord, Thompson & Morgan’s horticultural director, said: “The UK is home to some of the most passionate and dedicated pumpkin growers. Sadly none have been lucky enough to break the world record. To do that you need to start out with the best quality seed. Our spend on the Swiss seed may seem a high price to pay, but it will boost the genetics of UK plants moving forward and give us the best chance of seeing the world title brought to the UK for the first time. This seed and its parent represents a new generation of pumpkin breeding. The thickness of the flesh is much denser than older varieties, bringing more opportunity for heavyweight giants to be produced.

“Getting hold of this seed is the equivalent of buying Red Rum for stud use.”

A standard packet of every-day pumpkin seed retails for as little as 99p for 10 seeds, but the chance to own a potentially world record-breaking seed does not come along often and attracts worldwide attention.

More than 80 delegates from 11 countries attended the three-day conference in Lymington, Hampshire.

Thompson & Morgan experts with the super seed from the worlds largest pumpkin alongside a traditional seed - Mel Allington Thompson & Morgan experts with the super seed from the worlds largest pumpkin alongside a traditional seed - Mel Allington

The attendance list read as a who’s-who of the pumpkin world and included the five best international pumpkin growers - all record breakers - alongside the UK’s very own specialists, Ian and Stuart Paton.

Bidding for the giant seed remained frantic until the £700 mark, it then fell down to just two interested parties: Mr Hansord and Eddie Zaychkowski, a phone bidder calling in from Edmonton, Canada.

Thompson & Morgan has long been the sponsor of the official UK Giant Pumpkin weigh-in, held every October at the Autumn Pumpkin Festival, in Southampton.

The world’s most expensive pumpkin seed comes packed with in-built genetics from the current world record holder – a mammoth 2,323 lb (1054kg) specimen produced by Swiss grower Beni Meier in 2014, which smashed the world record.

Collecting giant pumkin seed  (photo fromThompson & Morgan) Collecting giant pumkin seed (photo fromThompson & Morgan)

At its peak, the giant piled on a staggering 44lbs of weight per day as it grew.

To keep up with the growth rate, the plant needed 150 gallons of fertilised water every day – equivalent to filling five household baths.

Could you be a record-breaking pumpkin grower?

Thompson & Morgan is now looking for interest from UK veg growers willing to take on the seed and attempt to break the world record in their own gardens this summer.

Paul Hansord said: “We’re looking for someone with the passion, dedication and time to produce a giant specimen. The main season of care falls when we are all hands on deck with our mail order plant despatches.

“While we don’t have the time to look after the plant ourselves, we have all the tips and specialist knowledge to pass on to the chosen grower to give them the best success with the seed.”

To register your interest write to Paul, detailing where the plant will be grown and why you should be chosen to grow the seed, but don’t delay – the seed needs to be sown around April 15 for the best chance of success.

Interested gardeners can write to Paul Hansord, Giant Pumpkin Seed, Thompson & Morgan, Poplar Lane, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP8 5EU. Alternatively, email pressoffice@thompson-morgan.com

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