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2013 PRESS RELEASES

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October 4, 2013
VIRGINIA GROWN PUMPKINS AVAILABLE NOW – BIG, BRIGHT AND HEFTY
Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, 804.786.7686

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS), the state’s farmers have been harvesting pumpkins for three or four weeks now and will continue to pick for another week or two. They are a nice bright orange – or red, green, blue, white, striped or speckled – and the standard Jack-O-Lantern pumpkin may be a little bigger and heavier this year because of all the rain.

Virginia grown pumpkins are available at pick-your-own-farms, roadside stands, farmers’ markets and even big box stores. Consumers can search for them by location or zip code at VirginiaGrown.com. In addition to big orange ones, consumers will find small pumpkins in orange, white or both and a variety of specialty pumpkins and gourds. It’s also a great time to buy winter squash for decorations or for eating.

Pumpkins are available in every part of the state. At Yankey Farms in Prince William County, the quality is excellent, but supplies are slightly down from last year – a banner year – due to the amount of early season rain. Yankey’s pumpkins have good size, color and stems. Owner Jay Yankey sells mainly to wholesale customers but keeps enough for his on-farm customers. Like many farmers, he offers a corn maze, a scavenger hunt and a children’s play area on the farm. He says, “I’ll be busy heading into Halloween.”

Travis Marshall from Hillsville echoes Yankey’s assessment. The wet, cool weather was bad for pollination and germination, and a few weeks ago Marshall was a little concerned about his crop. He also had a few acres in bottom land where the pumpkins drowned. But when harvest time came, the fields looked better than he anticipated and he has been picking 30 varieties of pumpkins, gourds and squash for about a month. He grows Cinderella pumpkins, red warty ones, blue, green or flat-bottomed pumpkins in addition to plain gourds, wing gourds and several varieties of squash. 

For consumers who want to know what kind of pumpkin to get, he says Gladiator and Magic Lantern are hard to beat for your standard Jack-O-Lantern, but he also sells many other varieties from miniature to huge. His Prize Winner pumpkins can weigh more than 200 pounds. He only grows a few because, “They are really hard to lift and get out of the field.” He sells them mainly to produce stands that put one or two out front as attention-getters. Marshall sells a lot of his pumpkins to Food City and they have pictures of him and his family in nearly all of their 115 stores to stress that the pumpkins are local.

Mike Tipton with Food City says, “Pumpkins got off to a two week late start vs. last year. Supplies are finally catching up with the demand, however. With all the wet weather over the last few months the expectation of quality of the pumpkins was questionable. However we are seeing great sizing and the quality of the pumpkins has been outstanding so far. Consumers have begun to decorate for fall with the pumpkins and mums. We are expecting sales to be as strong as last year even with the shorter window of sales opportunity.”    

So despite the unusual weather this year, Virginia’s pumpkin growers have a lot of pumpkins in every size, shape and color ready for front porches and back yards all over the state.

VDACS posts all of its news releases on Facebook and Twitter. To receive immediate updates, follow us on Twitter@VaAgriculture or like us on facebook.com/VaAgriculture.

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