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Last Updated: Friday, 15 October, 2004, 08:31 GMT 09:31 UK
Farmer warns 'pumpkin rustlers'
Pumpkins are more expensive this year
The UK's biggest pumpkin farmer says thieves and vandals have forced him to place a 24-hour guard over his crop in the run-up to Halloween.

David Bowman from Spalding, Lincs, grows around two million pumpkins every year in 300 acres on Europe's biggest pumpkin farm.

Mr Bowman says the pumpkins are more valuable this year because poor weather has resulted in a low yield.

"I have a permanent guard in my yard 24 hours a day now," he said.

Since the beginning of October thieves have been stealing the vegetables which they can sell at car boot sales.

One person came in with a long knife and chopped up about 200 pumpkins up
David Bowman, pumpkin farmer

The thefts are more common on Friday nights just before car boot sales, he said.

Mr Bowman warned robbers not to try to steal any of his remaining crop.

But theft is not the only problem the farmers are facing.

"One person came in with a long knife and chopped up about 200 pumpkins up - he may have thought it was funny but it wasn't very funny to me."

Mr Bowman said crop yield is down by as much as 40% for some varieties.

Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire have more pumpkin fields than other areas of the UK with about 600-700 acres under cultivation.

"We had to cart away the pumpkins every night to stop the thieves from taking them from the fields.

"Pumpkins don't like wet and cold and that's the sort of weather we have been having."

BBC's Rob Underwood
"One person cut up about 200 pumpkins"

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