John Mills with his pumpkin in happier times, before the formidable fruit collapsed.
John Mills with his pumpkin in happier times, before the formidable fruit collapsed. DAVID NIELSEN

Pumpkin dreams now squashed

UP UNTIL Tuesday night, one giant Brunswick Heads pumpkin had survived the sweltering summer heat, the recent torrential downpours and was off to the Royal Easter Show.

Then the 320kg fruit collapsed, along with its creator’s dreams.

John Mills has been growing huge pumpkins for three years and although it’s only a hobby to his Brunswick Wholesale Nursery business, he is very passionate about it.

But Mr Mills is not the only victim of giant pumpkin rotting.

Friend and fellow pumpkin grower Tidge Knight, of Bangalow, has also had to pull out of the Royal Easter Show Pumpkin Growing competition because his home-grown pumpkin rotted.

Local growers have blamed the unpredictable weather conditions for the demise of their gargantuan gourds.

“In the last couple of years the fruit rotted because of the hot humid weather and the pouring rain,” Mr Mills said.

“I think the sandy soil has an effect, but there is a lot of luck involved and a lot of hard work.

“I check the pumpkin twice a day but leading up to the show it was on constant watch.”

The pumpkin was 1.37 metres across, 1.2 metres deep and 0.9 metres high. It was to be lifted by forklift onto a truck and transport to Sydney today.

With the current show record only at 270kgs, Mr Mills was in with a strong winning chance.

“We couldn’t see it visibly rotting from the outside, the stalk just seemed a bit soft,” he said.

“We went to weigh it and when we lifted it up the bottom dropped out of it. It is such a shame. But I’m not letting this stop me getting there.

“I’ll get the record one day.

For now, Mr Mills has plans to recreate a local pumpkin growing competition, where farmers and locals can enter their pumpkins in different categories to win prize money.

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