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Last Updated: Friday, 26 September, 2003, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
Threat to conker contest
Hot weather has led to a shortage of conkers
The world conker contest is under threat - because the hot weather has caused a shortage of horse chestnuts.

Organiser John Hadman said trees had shed their prize nuts a week early to conserve moisture.

He said they could still be collected up to 10 days before the annual event in Ashton, Northants, next month - but bidding for 15 conkers on internet auction site ebay was starting at 4.50.

The conkers already on the ground are too small and soft to be used in the championships, based on the traditional playground game.

About 1,500 conkers are needed for the competition and ideally they should be 1.25 inches across.

Mr Hadman said: "Short of an earthquake we will not be cancelling - you can collect good conkers up to 10 days before the event.

"If they are not good enough we'll have to put plan B into action and issue an urgent appeal for conkers to be sent to us."

This is the worst conker season for 12 years, added Mr Hadman.

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