LYMINGTON twins Ian and Stuart Paton have smashed their own UK record for the biggest ever pumpkin but came up short of the coveted world record.
The 185-stone monster, which was just 31lb short of the world’s heaviest, was officially weighed at Pinetops Nursery in Lymington on Saturday, making it the second largest squash ever grown.
The super fruit is one of a crop of four 2,000lb-plus whoppers the brothers produced this year, with two of them now set to be displayed at Sunnyfields Farm in Totton and Otter Nurseries in Lymington.
Ian said: “Once we have grown the pumpkins they are absolutely no good for eating so we always try to find a way they can be used to raise money for charity.
“We are not quite sure where the biggest will end up yet but we’re expecting to have lots of interest in the next week or so.”
The gigantic squash was cultivated in greenhouses at the family-run Pinetops Nursery in Efford, near Lymington, where 59-year-olds Ian and Stuart spent around six hours a day tending to it. At its growing peak it gained an incredible 51lbs a day for 21 days straight.
The brothers have long set their sights on breaking the world record, which is currently held by Belgian Mathias Willemijns with a 2,624lb (187.5-stone) pumpkin grown in 2016.
This year’s whopper weighed in at 2,593.7lb – bringing it within 31lb of the world record and smashing the brothers’ previous UK title of 2,433lb.
Ian said: “This year our biggest pumpkin was an absolute monster. We needed two forklifts to get it out of the greenhouse so we knew it was going to come close to the record.”
“We didn’t quite break the world record this time around – but we are absolutely sure we will get there one day. It is just a matter of time.”
“We started growing pumpkins over 40 years ago, when our biggest weighed 54lbs, and it is absolutely incredible to think that the pumpkins we grow now can gain around that in weight each day.”
Ian and Stuart plant seeds from previous supersized pumpkins every April to grow a crop of six plants, which are then used to grow one pumpkin each.
The plants are pollinated in mid-June and it then takes around 110 days for the pumpkins to reach their maximum size.
Ian said: “The seeds can be quite variable, if you look at siblings from the same family, you can get some short and some tall and it’s the same with pumpkins, you never quite know what you will get.”
“We always grow six plants but we will inevitably lose one or two along the way.
The twins have been growing pumpkins competitively for more than 20 years and have made no secret of their plan to take the world record for the largest ever pumpkin.
Ian said: “We already have lots of ideas of things we will change and improve for next year – we have come so close this time that 2021 really could be the one.”