A British watermelon grower has set a new record for the number of melons grown in the UK, supplying 8000 to Asda.
Joe Cottingham, of Watts Farms took full advantage of the sweltering heat and consistent sun this summer to create 2kg watermelons that match their European rivals for sweetness and size.
The Dartford-based grower used polytunnels and insulated soil to help recreate hotter conditions, with most watermelons in Britain usually coming from Brazil and Spain.
Asda said that Cottingham’s record amounted to a 1,230 per cent increase on last year, when he grew 600 melons. His record is well timed with a surge in popularity of watermelons, with retail sales increasing by 33 per cent since 2015.
The melons will hit Asda stores tomorrow, selling for £2.50.
Cottingham said: “Whilst the UK heatwave hasn’t provided perfect growing conditions for some fruit and veg, we’ve been able to help our watermelons thrive, with the long days of sunlight producing super sweet melons.
“With over 8,000 juicy melons grown this year, we’re excited to further explore how we can adopt innovative growing techniques to become even more self-sufficient here in the UK, providing customers with fruit typically sourced from warm climates.”
While beating the UK melon record, Cottingham also managed to turn out 800 yellow-fleshed watermelons on the side.
Ken Atkinson, Asda melon buyer, added: “Last year, our customers went wild for our watermelons, so we’re pleased to be able to reprise the introduction of the locally-grown fruit. We saw record watermelon sales across the summer and are proud to offer our customers a unique and tasty product to further strengthen our range.”