Growers in most areas are anticipating a good crop of pumpkins and hard squash for the upcoming season, in spite of weather challenges.
Eastern growers might have a bit of a struggle, though, said John Wiers, field operations representatives with Willard, Ohio-based Wiers Farm Inc., which grows zucchini and packs and ships pumpkins.
“I’ve heard that some of the fields have been wet in Northwest Ohio. Time will tell how everything goes,” he said.
The season should get underway early in September, with volume peaking later in the month and continuing into the first two weeks of October, Wiers said.
Rain had hindered Wiers’ zucchini crop, he said.
Pumpkins and ornamentals were progressing well in Indiana, Illinois and Colorado for Poseyville, Ind.-based Frey Farms.
“We expect above average yields in Indiana and Illinois, and the Pueblo, Colorado crop is looking good as well — all on target,” said Hilary Long, director of marketing and business development.
Manteca, Calif.-based pumpkin and ornamental grower-shipper Van Groningen & Sons Inc. has been dealing with heat, said Ryan Van Groningen, sales manager.
“We’ve had some struggles with really hot weather during the growing season,” he said.
The heat has dissipated now and things were shaping up well for the company’s pumpkins, as well as the squash at a neighboring farm, which Van Groningen & Sons packs.
Van Groningen said his company’s goal was to start its season around Labor Day.
The season was running a bit late for King Ferry, N.Y.-based pumpkin and squash grower-shipper Turek Farms, said Jason Turek, partner.
“In a normal year, we’d be cutting zucchini and yellow squash by now, but the field washed away and we replanted,” he said.
Turek Farms scatters its pumpkin and hard squash plantings over numerous locations as a hedge against localized weather events, Turek said.
Those crops were in the flowering stage in the last week of July, he said.
“A lot of retailers want to see some pumpkins by Labor Day, and we try to get started just after that,” he said. “For hard squash, it’s usually early October, and that may be moved back due to cool weather in May.”
Rainy in New York
Rain has been a challenge this year, Turek said.
“We’re having a really lousy growing season for vine crops. We’re 180 degrees opposite of where we were a year ago,” he said.
He said 2017 likely will be the “wettest spring/summer in history.”
Some plantings didn’t survive the rains, he said.
“I can say a lot of them are missing 20% to 30%, washed away,” he said. “If they’re under water for more than a day or two at a time, typically vine crops just can’t come out of that.”
Crops looking good
In Hart, Mich., pumpkin, squash and ornamental grower-shipper Todd Greiner Farms reported good growing conditions.
“We’ve got adequate amount of rainfall. Only had to irrigate a time or two, which is nice,” said Aaron Fletcher, who handles sales and logistics for the company.
Greiner Farms was looking to start shipping pumpkins in late August, Fletcher said.
“We typically start pumpkins the last few days of August and then really start up basically Labor Day through Oct. 20-25,” he said.
Kevin Green, salesman with Henderson, Texas-based pumpkin grower-shipper Jackson Melons Inc., said he’s looking for a bounce-back season this year.
“Last season wasn’t good, due to oversupply,” he said.
This year’s crop was looking good, he said.
“We have a few minis and a few Cinderellas, but my main deal is carving pumpkins,” he said.
The deal should start on time between Sept. 5 and 10, he said.
The crop also looked good at Floydada, Texas-based pumpkin, squash and ornamental grower-shipper Pumpkin Pyle, said Paula Pyle, co-owner.
“We’ve had real beneficial rain, and temperatures haven’t been overly hot, which is good for blooming,” she said.
The company will begin to harvest pumpkins at the end of August, with shipments continuing until about Oct. 20, Pyle said.