What is in this article?:
- Southeast pumpkin growers had mixed results in 2013
- Bad for pollination
• The 2013 pumpkin crop in the upper Southeast was mixed, depending on location and the amount of rainfall received.
THE PRODUCTION cost was high, but the actual production was good for most pumpkins grown in Virginia and North Carolina this year, like these at a stand in Dunn, N.C.
Bad for pollination
• The wet, cool weather was bad for pollination and germination, said grower Travis Marshall from Hillsville in southwestern Virginia, and at one point he was a little concerned about the crop. But when harvest time came, the fields looked better than expected, except for a few bottom land acres where the pumpkins drowned.
• In western North Carolina, the 100 inches of rain that fell this year wreaked havoc on the pumpkin crop in the Blue Ridge region, said Mike Stepp of Hendersonville, N.C.
He owns a pick-your-own apple facility.
“We grow a few pumpkins to sell at the orchard,” he said. “But that crop was a disaster this year because of all the wet weather. We didn't produce many pumpkins at all.”
Finally, a buyer for a Virginia grocery chain said pumpkins got off to a two-week-late start compared to 2012, said Mike Lipton of the Food City chain.
“With all the wet weather over the last few months, the expectation of quality was questionable,” he said. “However, we are seeing great sizing, and the quality of the pumpkins has been outstanding so far.”
Supply was catching up with the demand in early October. “Consumers were beginning to decorate for fall with pumpkins and mums,” he said. “We are expecting sales to be as strong as last year even with the shorter window of sales opportunity.”
This was by far the wettest weather that John Bynum had ever seen during land preparation.
“It got wet. It stayed wet. We couldn't get in when we wanted,” said the Garner, N.C., pumpkin and mums grower.
“I finally got in and laid my pumpkin crop by. Leaching was a problem right after planting. There were nitrogen deficiencies in lighter land. I had to add more nitrogen.”
There was a big canopy of vines with no root system to support it. Then, after fruit set, it got dry, and the vines suffered.
“And we had a lot of mildew, including the dry mildew. We had a dry northeast wind blowing all the time, and that made conditions better for the dry mildew. We had to spray every three to five days.”
“I made about three times as many sprays as normal,” he said.
“After all that, I actually ended up with a very good crop,” he said. “It was better than average. The number of sellable pumpkins is up about 20 percent above average.”
All that disease control spraying and leaching adjustment, however, made this an expensive crop to produce.
“But you can't cut back on the necessary practices,” said Bynum. “And you absolutely have to do the things that need doing when they need to be done. That is really important with pumpkins ― they say that if you see a little bit of fungus on the vines today, you need to spray, because the whole field will have it tomorrow.”