11st whopper among Halloween harvest

Tilly Petley, daughter of Nette Petley from Stoke Fruit Farm

Tilly Petley, daughter of Nette Petley from Stoke Fruit Farm

Martin Kemp

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PERFECT weather for pumpkins has produced a truly enormous specimen – weighing in at a hefty 11st.

The Atlantic Giant has a girth of 6.5ft and has been grown by the Wilson family at Stoke Fruit Farm on Hayling Island.

It is one of a bumper crop for Halloween – and more than 6,000 will have been sold by the end of the month.

People have been stopping off at the farm, off Havant Road, to take pictures.

The Wilson family have been farming the land for nearly 100 years and are famous for their wide variety of pumpkins, popping up to signal the start of autumn.

Nette Petley and her three-year-old daughter Tilly have been tending the pumpkins since the spring.

The 27-year-old farmer said: ‘My brother Sam Wilson planted them in May and we’re amazed at how big they are this year. It’s the biggest pumpkin crop we’ve ever grown.

‘It was a struggle just trying to weigh our biggest one, an Atlantic Giant.

‘Even though the weather hasn’t been that good up country it has been perfect for us – sun, rain, sun, rain.

‘People come from miles away and can’t believe it. They have to take photos.

‘My daughter Tilly has a special one she has been nurturing every day by sitting on it – I’m surprised it’s survived!

‘She’s begged me not to sell it.’

Mrs Petley’s late grandfather Andrew Wilson started the farm 90 years ago and hit upon the idea of planting pumpkins when they became popular in this country.

Nette added: ‘We’ve grown up with them and love them. It doesn’t seem weird to us that there are thousands of them outside our front door.

‘We have lots of varieties of squash and the inedible gourds are also really popular.

‘They are small and funky and come in funny shapes with warts. They are brilliant to use for Halloween.’

The biggest Atlantic Giant ever grown was a 2,096lb – 149st – in Germany this year.

‘We’re very proud of the of pumpkins,’ said Nette.

‘Anyone who comes in just can’t believe their eyes. There are going to be lots of spooky Stoke Fruit Farm pumpkins up in people’s windows this Halloween.’

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