Pumpkin markets could tighten this fall

09/18/2013 09:34:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Pumpkin markets could tighten in October thanks to a wet summer on the East Coast.

King Ferry, N.Y.-based Turek Farms expects volumes to be down about 33% because of early rains, said Jason Turek, a partner in the company.

“The high spots are pretty good, other spots are empty,” he said. “We had some issues getting planted.”

Because of tight labor this summer, the pumpkin crop losses are actually in some cases making things easier, Turek said.

“Luckily, we’re light on some things and we can move guys around,” he said. “If we had a full crop, I’m not sure we could get it out of the field.”

The quality of those pumpkins that made it, however, is good, and their size profile normal, Turek said. Turek Farms began harvesting right after Labor Day.

Lusk Onion Co., Clovis, N.M., expects good quality and normal sizing and yields this season, said Terry Lusk, partner.

“Overall, it looks it will be a good crop,” he said. “We have good production and good quality.”

Lusk Onion began harvesting the last week of August, Lusk said. The summer was on the dry side, he said, but irrigation helped produce a quality crop.

Capac, Mich.-based Mike Pirrone Produce Inc. also expects a good pumpkin crop this year, said president Henry DeBlouw.

“It looks phenomenal,” he said. “We try to grow two perfect pumpkins per plant, and we’ve definitely accomplished that this year.”

Sizes are on the large side this year, with fruit peaking on 30s and 35s, DeBlouw said. The company also reported good color. In October, markets should tighten, DeBlouw said.

“North Carolina lost a lot of pumpkins, and the East Coast has had a lot of rain,” he said.

On Sept. 17, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $95-125 for 36-inch bins of howdens 30-45s from Virginia, up from $80-100 last year at the same time.

Lusk Onion is producing about 750 acres of pumpkins this year, up slightly from last year. The company expected good demand, though the majority of its pumpkins were sold on contract before harvest, Lusk said. Lusk Onion ships pumpkins predominantly to New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, with some going to Colorado and other bordering states, Lusk said.

Buyers from other areas that normally have plenty of pumpkins have been calling Turek Farms, looking for product, Turek said. Still, despite the crop losses in New York, the market in general always seems to find away to get enough pumpkins delivered in time for the holidays, he said.

“Before it’s over, there always seem to be enough,” he said. “I’ve never heard of a kid going without a pumpkin. Retailers adjust their specs and take sizes they normally don’t use.”



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