"Uncle Pumpkin" in Shandong breed gigantic pumpkins
At the annual International Vegetable Exhibition in Shouguang, a patch of colorful gigantic pumpkins are catching eyes.
These pumpkins, which can weigh up to 250 kilograms each, are all bred by a famous local farmer named Zhao Lihua.
Zhao Lihua is known to the locals as 'Uncle Pumpkin.'
Pumpkins raised by him have now become the symbol of Shouguang vegetables.
"From the very first vegetable exhibition I followed my father and presented potted plants at the event; including potted pumpkins. We have developed different varieties of potting then. That's when I was thinking if there are some breeds that can shock the audience. In the following years I started to try the gigantic pumpkins."
A dozen years ago Zhao Lihua began his journey to cultivate giant pumpkins.
To breed the perfect pumpkin, you almost have to live in the greenhouse.
He says even though pumpkins grow up big and solid, he says they're actually very delicate.
Pumpkins can be very sensitive to temperature fluxuations.
Zhao recalls a year when snow affected all his pumpkins.
"Seven or eight years ago there was a major snowfall in Shouguang. Many greenhouses were crushed. Two of mine collapsed. Those days were very cold and the pumpkins were in a key growing phase. When the weather became better the vegetables had matured already and they didn't grow very well. I was really depressed at the time."
Zhao Lihua's wife Jia Wenhua says her husband can be really "stubborn" when looking after these pumpkins.
"He is an honest man, very perseverant. Sometimes I would persuade him to stop working but I never successfully dragged him out of the greenhouses. I am very worried about him for working all day every day on pumpkins."
After countless experiments and trials, Zhao Lihua was finally able to breed enormous sized pumpkins.
"There is one pumpkin I grew this year that weighed 250 kilograms. For next couple of years I wish I can grow some 300 or 350 kilogram pumpkin. When the weight reaches 500 kilograms, it would be possible for me to break Guinness world record."
In Shouguang, there are many farmers like Zhao Lihua.
They have dreams, techniques and more importantly the determination to plant high quality vegetables.
By 2017, advanced agricultural technologies and breeding techniques have been popularized at almost every farming household in Shouguang.