York & North Yorkshire

Yorkshireman grows the 'Holy Grail' of gooseberries

Judges at Egton Bridge Gooseberry Show in North Yorkshire Image copyright Owen Humphreys/PA Media
Image caption Judges have been weighing each gooseberry annually on an apothecary's scale since 1800

It is the "Holy Grail" of gooseberry growing, according to the man who has broken a world record for the heaviest gooseberry.

Graeme Watson's prize-winning fruit weighed in at 64.56g, beating the previous record set in 2013 of 64.49g.

The 59-year-old, from Ainthorpe, North Yorkshire, is a member of the Egton Bridge Old Gooseberry Society.

He was crowned champion at their annual show beating about 30 other competitors.

Mr Watson said the fruits lose weight from the moment they are picked and it was a "race against time" to get it to the show, at Egton Bridge, near Whitby.

"It was picked last night, it was a little bit of a surprise. I got my hands on it and thought, 'this is a good one'," he said.

"I have been trying a long, long time. It's probably a once-in-a-lifetime gooseberry for most growers. It's the Holy Grail of gooseberry growing."

Image copyright Owen Humphreys/PA Media
Image caption Graeme Watson said when he picked the fruit he was sure it was "a good one"
Image copyright Owen Humphreys/PA Media
Image caption The key to successful gooseberry growing is "attention to detail", according to Mr Watson

To ensure the gooseberry - a yellow variety called Millennium - arrived in top condition, Mr Watson said he created a special box to carry it in.

"A mini carrying box, padded out inside and lined in egg trays," he said.

"I had it on my knee in the car just in case we hit any potholes or cattle grids."

'Pests off'

He said growing gooseberries where he lives was a "bit testing".

"We have to keep the bushes healthy, keep pests off them, get the fertiliser requirements right.

"It's just paying attention to detail."

The Egton Bridge Old Gooseberry Society, established in 1800, claims to be the oldest surviving show in the country.

It runs the show annually on the first Tuesday of August.

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