Jackson Melons Inc., Henderson, Texas, expects to begin shipping the week of Sept. 3, said Kevin Green, salesman.
“It’s one of the earliest starts for us,” Green said. “Every year the last five it seems we’ve started a little earlier.”
Traditionally, Jackson wouldn’t get started on pumpkins until Sept. 10-20, Green said. Now, more retailers seem to want to generate a little buzz earlier in the season.
“They want a few loads for a change of scenery, then it quiets off until about the 20th” of September, Green said Aug. 27. “I can’t see people buying pumpkins next week.”
Hart, Mich.-based Todd Greiner Farms also is starting early this year, with the first shipments going out the week of Aug. 27, said Tyler Hodges, sales manager.
“The first half of the summer was hot and dry, but since mid-July, we’ve had great weather — good rains and milder temperatures,” Hodges said.
Greiner Farms expects volumes to peak between Sept. 16 and Oct. 10, Hodges said.
Van Groningen & Sons Inc., Manteca, Calif., also started shipping the week of Aug. 27, said Ryan Van Groningen, sales manager.
That’s earlier than the past two years, but close to a normal start for the company, he said. The company’s volumes are expected to peak at the end of September and beginning of October, he said.
Turek Farms, King Ferry, N.Y., expects to begin shipping after Labor Day, said Jason Turek, partner. Very dry weather in June and June was good for quality, Turek said, but yields and size have suffered.
“It definitely stressed the crop,” he said. “It looks like we’ll be lighter than normal, and sizing may be down a little.”
Drought in several pumpkin growing areas should equate to strong demand, Hodges said.
“Supply is looking to be light, so demand is up,” he said. “It should be a good year.”
Green is hoping that demand is as strong as it was in 2011.
“Last year was the best I can recall, and we’re hoping for it again this year,” he said. “It’s looking good at this point.”
On Aug. 28, 24-inch bins of large cinderella pumpkins from Virginia were $260-280 on the Baltimore terminal market, down from $350 last year at the same time.
Van Groningen said it’s seldom the case that shortages in the East produce higher prices in the West. He said growers are just hoping for slightly higher prices to cover rising labor and other input costs.
Jackson’s acreage is down because of drought and limited water supplies in some areas, Green said. The company will market about 200 acres of pumpkins, down from 240-300 in years past.
At the end of August Green reported good quality, yields and size. Hodges said Greiner Farms wasn’t hit as hard as other growing regions because of lower temperatures in Michigan the second half of the summer. Greiner Farms also reported good quality and size heading into the season.
Van Groningen also expected good quality and sizing this year.
“The vines look very good — good canopy, there shouldn’t be any sunburn. We should normal or above-normal quality.”