Heavy veg prizes worth weight

Joe Atherton with his winning giant tomato

Joe Atherton with his winning giant tomato

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It takes months of patience and dedication to grow mammoth veg ready for show but to ensure entries were the genuine article in one class DNA testing was used today.

This year organisers of the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show introduced a new championship for a variety of beafsteak tomato called Gigantomo, with a £1,000 prize up for grabs for the winner. Joe Atherton’s fine specimen tipped the scales at 3lbs 13.9oz and shortly afterwards a sample was taken which will now be tested to ensure it is the correct variety.

Samples of Joe Atherton's  winning tomato taken for DNA testing

Samples of Joe Atherton's winning tomato taken for DNA testing

Mr Atherton, from Mansfield, did not break the world record, but is confident he has nothing to fear from the DNA testers who will take about a week to get back with the results.

Such was his dedication to winning he did not even cut his prize-winning tomato from his plant until 1.30am on the morning of the show, he then carefully packed it in a shoe box for transportation to the event at the Great Yorkshire Showground in Harrogate.

When asked the secret of his success he quipped: “You have to have a good wife with a lot of patience.”

But he said the real secret was “dedication and hard work,” but said weather conditions, which had seen him deal with hotter conditions earlier in the growing season following by cold nights, had been tricky.

This year there were 13 monster vegetable classes including the National Heavy Onion Championship, which was won by Barbara Cook, from Knottingley, whose giant onion weighed in at 13lbs and 9.5oz.

She is a past winner of the class and was delighted to walk away with the title again.

The world record for the heaviest onion was set at last year’s show by Tony Glover, from Birmingham, at 18lbs 11oz.

The show, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, continues tomorrow and Sunday and also features over 5,000 blooms on display, demonstrations and ideas for making the most of small gardens.

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