Friday, October 26, 2012
Bought your pumpkin in DFW? It’s probably an import
Growing conditions are increasingly inhospitable for DFW pumpkin farms.
DALLAS Minds are filled with thoughts of mysterious ghosts, witches on broomsticks, and dancing skeletons as the month of October comes around.
But there is a mystery lingering in the pumpkin patches around Dallas. That perfect pumpkin, nestled in the brambles, may be from another world -- or at least from as far away as New Mexico.
“Seriously?” said SMU Senior Christie Devine with a puzzled look. “I guess that’s why we couldn’t find a big enough pumpkin when we looked last year.”
Because of less-than-ideal weather conditions, most Dallas-Fort Worth pumpkin patches do not grow their own pumpkins. Instead, they ship pumpkins to their patch from farms outside of the region.
According to First Christian Church representative Lea Townsend, their pumpkin patch in Arlington is one of the few pumpkin patches in the area that receives a good shipment.
“The difference I guess between us and the other places is we have bigger pumpkins people don’t have,” said Townsend.
Townsend says they will usually receive up to a full 18-wheeler truckload from Pumpkins USA, a company based in New Mexico with huge pumpkin fields that are capable of growing pumpkins up to 50 pounds.
Royal Lane Baptist Church in Dallas also receives their pumpkins from Pumpkins USA, including their latest shipment of 2,100 pumpkins weighing in at a total of 4,700 pounds, according to pumpkin patch volunteer Fred Binder.
First Christian Church attempted to grow it’s own large pumpkins in the church’s community garden, but was not successful, said Townsend.
“They only got to be so big. I think it was more like something you would use to cook or bake with,” said Townsend.
Because large pumpkins need specific weather and soil conditions to grow, pumpkin patches like Hall’s Pumpkin Farm in Grapevine will ship in the majority of their pumpkins from West Texas.
“They grow the best there because it is hot and dry and if we get a lot of rain its just not good for pumpkins. We get more rain than they do,” explained Lisa Nelson, daughter-in-law to owner Jessie Lou Hall Nelson.
Although Hall’s Pumpkin Farm ships in most of their pumpkins, Nelson said they are capable of growing pumpkins of a smaller variety.
“We grow the pie pumpkins, they’re the smaller pumpkins,” said Nelson.
According to Nelson, the farm must ship in the huge “Big Mac” pumpkins that can weigh up to nearly 150 pounds, and can come to above your knee, because they are not capable of growing them on their patch.
Although many patches admit to shipping in the majority of their pumpkins, Big Orange Pumpkin Farm in Celina is one of the few patches in North Texas capable growing some of their pumpkins.
“When we first opened there were not any others in the area that were growing their own and had vines,” said owner Rick Kimbrell. “To my knowledge were the only ones in the DFW area that does that.”
Kimbrell said each year they will grow around 500,000 pounds of pumpkins and will usually sell the majority of them.
“We grow some here and in West Texas. West Texas works a little better with climate than the Dallas area, which is a little humid,” said owner Rick Kimbrell.
Although most of the pumpkins in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are shipped in, pumpkin carvers like SMU Senior Sam Welles says where they come from doesn’t matter to him.
“To me it doesn’t really matter where they come from. I’m just glad they ship them in so that the tradition of carving pumpkins and having them as a symbol can continue. I mean, what’s Halloween and the fall season without pumpkins?” said Welles.
Pegasus News Content partner - The Daily Campus