By Matt Reese
Everyone loves a giant Halloween pumpkin to terrify the neighbors and the trick-or-treaters that come a knocking, but there will not be quite as much terror to go around this year, courtesy of a challenging growing season.
Bob Sage’s important autumn pumpkin crop was little off in 2012 on his Geauga County farm. The pumpkins are on trickle tape irrigation, which is crucial for providing moisture to the plants prior to vining. The summer heat did not hurt the numerous types of specialty gourds or pie pumpkins they produce, but did reduce the size of the largest pumpkins.
“Our large pumpkins are just not quite as large,” Sage said. “Our pumpkin crop was OK. Disease control is the challenge with pumpkins, and downy mildew does just as well in a dry year as in a wet year.”
Those largest pumpkins command the highest prices and have the highest demand for Sage, and at many pumpkin patches around the state. The Sage’s sell all of their farm products through their on-farm market that is open year round, seven days a week, for customers craving the sunny sweetness of autumn apples and other local items during the snow-filled winters of the region. They also do quite a few gift baskets, particularly around Christmas. The market features a number of other local items, including the ever-popular maple syrup, from the county as well.
“Our busiest time is September and October and this year we are seeing more new people,” he said. “It is fun because we are seeing families bringing new generations. In the winter, we have a good base of core customers that will come out every two weeks or so. The ‘buy local’ thing has really helped with the apples and we are seeing gradual increases in our other crops as well.”
Pumpkins have been no exception there and around Ohio as the crop has steadily increased in popularity in recent years, especially the big ones. Those, of course, are scarier, and scary is what counts on Halloween.