Business

Short season limits pumpkins

What is Halloween without pumpkins? The orange gourds won’t be any less prevalent this season, but an abbreviated growing season has led to a shrunken inventory for local farms that do Halloween business.

“We had a very late spring and cold weather this year,” said Steve Templeman, a marketer and family member at Maris Farms. “That translated into a long wait until we could plant our pumpkin crop.”

Maris, Farm Fresh Produce and Thomasson Farms each had delays of a month to a month and a half before they could plant pumpkin crops. Each farm does a different percentage of its business based on the Halloween season and all experienced the same pumpkin shortage.

At one end of the spectrum sits Maris Farms. Maris is not a year-round farm and does almost all of its business at Halloween.

About 95 percent of the business comes from pumpkin sales and sales of tickets to season events like the corn maze, Templeman said. The other part of the business comes from Christmas tree sales.

At the other end is Farm Fresh Produce and Thomasson Farms, both major pumpkin sellers that maintain year-round businesses. Farm Fresh gains about a third of its revenue from the month of October, manager Becky Cole said.

Though some crops, such as corn, have matured more slowly due to weather, most Farm Fresh produce comes from Yakima, which remained relatively free of rain and cold.

Thomasson Farms runs a family dairy farm operation year-round and is new to pumpkin sales, as it enters its fourth year. The late spring forced the Thomassons to delay planting pumpkins, until they decided to trudge out into the rain on Father’s Day to get the seeds into the ground, Cathy Thomasson said.

Rainy weather has also caused some slowdown in foot traffic.

Each farm is dealing with the difficulty in a different way. Maris has imported pumpkins from another field to supplement its homegrown supply. Farm Fresh is adopting a wait-and-see approach. Thomasson is banking on a feature it can offer the other pumpkin farms can’t: tours of its operating dairy farm.

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