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EXPLODING MELONS terrify Chinese

'Growth promoter' artificial engorgement fingered

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The Chinese authorities are probing a sudden and alarming outbreak of exploding melons, amid suspicions that a 'growth promoter' may be to blame for huge numbers of juicy fruits unexpectedly going bang.

According to the BBC, farmers in Jiangsu province have reported the destruction of substantial watermelon assets. Twenty farmers in one village "planted imported seeds from Japan", with ten households forced to run for cover last month when the resulting fruits began to blow up.

Liu Mingsuo explained to news agency Xinhua that he slapped growth-promoting chemicals on his melons on 6 May, and the very next day 180 of them exploded. So far, he's lost two-thirds of his crop.

A China Central Television report fingered these chemicals for the loss, but Liu was the only local to use them, so fellow farmer Wang Dehong quite reasonably "couldn't understand why his fruit also exploded as he had not used any chemicals".

Agricultural experts are baffled. They've suggested the weather and "abnormal size" of the melon might be factors.

The Beeb notes that farmers use the growth promoters to engorge their melons ahead of the peak season, thereby trousering a higher price. ®

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