A bidding war at the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth World Conference has led to a record payout for a single pumpkin seed. British seed and young plant supplier Thompson & Morgan went head to head against the world’s pumpkin growing elite in a move to see the world record pumpkin weight brought to UK shores in 2016.
A standard packet of every-day pumpkin seed retails for as little as 99p for 10 seeds, but the chance to own potentially world record-breaking seed doesn’t come along often and attracts worldwide attention. More than 80 delegates from 11 countries attended the three day event (26-28Feb) at Pinetops Nurseries, Lymington, Hampshire – the first time the event has been held in the UK.
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. The Hampshire twins have consistently upped the UK record weight in 40 years of growing, and even briefly held the European Record in 2014 until the world record was smashed in Switzerland.
Thompson & Morgan has long been the sponsor for the official UK Giant Pumpkin weigh in, held each October at The Autumn Pumpkin Festival, Netley Park, Southampton. Over the years it has paid out thousands of pounds for UK and European record breakers, but has never had to hand out the top £10,000 prize for a world record breaker.
The world’s most expensive pumpkin seed comes packed with inbuilt genetics from the current world record holder – a mammoth 2,323 lb (1054kg) specimen produced by Swiss grower Beni Meier in 2014. At its peak of growth the giant piled on a staggering 44lbs of weight per day – stand and look for long enough and you could see it swelling with your own eyes. To keep up with the growth rate, the plant needed 150 gallons of fertilised water every day – equivalent to filling five household baths!
Bidding for the giant seed remained frantic until the £700 mark, it then fell down to just two interested parties; Thompson & Morgan Horticultural Director Paul Hansord and Eddie Zaychkowski, a phone bidder calling in from Edmonton, Canada. The £1,250 selling price surpasses the previous £1,171 record price set in 2010.
Paul Hansord 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!”
You’d think that the seed specialist would want to keep a close eye on the growing of the pumpkin, but Mr Hansord is now seeking interest from UK veg growers willing to take on the seed and attempt to break the world record in their own gardens this summer.
He 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. Don’t delay – the seed needs to be sown around 15th April for the best chance of success:
Giant Pumpkin Seed
Thompson & Morgan
Or email email@example.com
The resulting pumpkin will need to be entered for the weigh-in at the Autumn Pumpkin Festival, Netley Park, Southampton, 8th October