Your children might think it’s all a bit of fun, but pumpkin-growing is now a big business for many UK growers.

Some 10m pumpkins are grown in the UK every year, 95% of them hollowed out to make Halloween lanterns and 5% used for soups, stews and pies.

While most farmers and their staff pick them up by hand, Wisbech manufacturer RJ Herbert now makes an automated version and has sold four pumpkin harvesters in the UK.

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Pickers inspect the pumpkins before lifting them on to a high-wall elevator which is designed to minimise bruising. This transfers them to pto-powered washing unit which cleans off the dirt. All water is recycled.

After washing, the workers grade them and put them into the appropriate-sized crate on the rear of the machine, then the crates are transferred to a tractor and trailer.

Output is a blistering 13t (or 1,300 pumpkins) an hour. Each machine is built to customers’ specifications and prices are around £100,000 for the complete harvesting rig and washer trailer.