‘I was on the verge of crying.’ After the trees were poisoned, the champion gooseberry grower lost his crown.
A FURIOUS dispute has erupted after the reigning champion of a renowned gooseberry growing competition alleged that a suspected rival poisoned 46 out of 50 of his gooseberry trees.
The Goostrey Gooseberry Show, which has been held in the Cheshire countryside for almost 130 years, was marred by controversy on Saturday. Terry Price, 76, who originally joined the competition when he was 18 years old, won it for the 11th time last year. He was given four trees by a father’s friend when he was a teenager, and had not finished worse than fourth place in over ten years until this weekend.
This year’s tournament, held at The Crown Inn in the agricultural community of Goostrey, was aired live on Facebook and viewed by over 1,000 people across the world.
However, after discovering virtually all of his gooseberry trees had been poisoned with a toxic chemical, Mr Price claims there was a deliberate attempt to derail his ambitions to keep his throne.
Mr Price, who is also the President of the Goostrey Gooseberry Society, claims the incident occurred three months ago and resulted in his finishing seventh, therefore ending his ambitions of winning the title for the 12th time.
His top fruit in this year’s competition weighed only 28g, less than half of his prize-winning gooseberry from previous year’s competition, which weighed 50g.
“They have been tampered with, there’s no doubt about it,” said last year’s champion.
“I could have cried when I found out because so much effort is put into it and then it all vanishes in an instant.
“They know where my best trees are and they’ve gone for them, which is why this year’s competition has been so difficult.”
Mr. Price found the damage to his gooseberry trees in May after rapidly observing that the quality of his produce – which he cultivates all year in his back garden – had dropped from prior years.
The retiree sent samples of the injured trees to be tested and analyzed in a lab, claiming the results proved the formula that killed them was “not available to the public.”
“It was something quite potent that functioned as a plant killer,” he explained.
“Don’t get me wrong, we’re all competitive and want to win, but at the end of the day,” Brinkwire Summary News says.