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Heatwave takes toll on champion pumpkins

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Heatwave takes toll on champion pumpkins
Zurich farmer Ben Meier with winning pumpkin. Photo: Jucker Farm
09:23 CEST+02:00
Zurich farmer Ben Meier won the Swiss annual pumpkin growing competition for the sixth time at the weekend with a specimen tipping the scales at 750.5 kilograms.

While that is a massive pumpkin, it falls well short of Meier's world record of 1,054 kilos, set last year in Germany.

Meier blamed the hot summer in Switzerland for the smaller pumpkin.

“Of course I was a little disappointed,” Meier is quoted as saying by the website of Jucker Farm, the site of the competition in the canton of Zurich.

“On the other hand, I was also glad that it was little quieter this year . . . and the hype was not so great.”

The Guinness World Record holder was deluged with requests for interviews last year at a time when he was becoming a father for a third time, he said.

The market gardener from Pfungen in the canton of Zurich first won the Swiss pumpkin competition in 2009 and subsequently won it in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

This year, his pumpkin came well ahead of the second-placed finisher weighing 521.4 kilograms.

Organizers of the competition at Jona in the canton of Zurich agreed that this year's heatwaves worked against bigger pumpkins.

“Pumpkins need lots of water and grow best when the temperature is around 25C,” Valérie Suter, competition official said, the ATS news agency reported.

However, the hot weather was good for other vegetables, with Swiss records broken this year for the heaviest carrot (1.9 kilos), biggest cucumber (7.6 kilos) and the biggest field pumpkin (31.7 kilograms).

A giant sunflower, with a bloom 66 centimetres in diameter set a European record, competition organizers said.

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