It's pumpkin harvest time in California. ( Courtesy Van Groningen & Sons Inc. )

It’s officially pumpkin spice latte season — Dunkin’ Donuts starts serving the iconic fall drink Aug. 27, and Starbucks starts the next day — which means thoughts will be turning to pumpkins and other harbingers of autumn soon.

Ryan Van Groningen, president of Van Groningen & Sons Inc., Manteca, Calif., said just like with Christmas items, retailers are featuring Halloween and fall items sooner.

“Every year is different, you never known when the start of pumpkin season will begin,” Van Groningen said in a news release. “A lot of it has to do with the weather. If it feels like fall outside, it is time to start promoting pumpkins and all the fall harvest décor along with it.”

Traditionally, retailers would wait until after Labor Day (Sept. 3 this year), but that’s not the case anymore, Van Groningen said.

Part of that’s fueled by the desire to be the first to market.

“If your stores are the first to showcase pumpkins, customers remember to back there when they are ready to purchase,” Van Groningen said in the release.

The crop is looking good this year, he said, including smaller decorative gourds and mini pumpkins, according to the release. Last year’s extreme heat in California decimated part of the crop, but growers this year are optimistic that temperatures will stay in check, according to the release.

 
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