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Fall pumpkins filling up shelves for Halloween

As people begin their Halloween preparations in the United States, pumpkin growers are well into their Fall harvest. Among the eating varieties, a number of pumpkins are grown especially for decorations in homes and businesses. For producers, they are seeing another good year, on the back of some bumper crops in previous years.

Ryan Van Groningen, of Van Groningen & Sons in California, said the season is off to a good start after a worrying summer. "The pumpkin season has started off well as retailers stock up their shelves," he said. "Some started right after Labor Day and now the supply chain is busy filling up stores and warehouses. For now, the ornamental varieties are the main sellers while the carving pumpkins won't sell as much until the end of September/beginning of October."

Ornamental tiger stripe pumpkins

Every year, new varieties of pumpkins arrive on the scene in order to enhance decorations for customers. "We've seen a few different varieties and colors every year," continued Van Groningen. "This year, we introduced the 'Warty Minion', a small, knuckle head pumpkin that's orange with green warts. It stands around 6" - 9" tall and is ideal as a table-top decoration. It has not been grown in commercial quantities yet and this year was only available as sample stock, but it proved quite popular."

Strong market cause for optimism
After a number of big years, this season's crop is looking closer to average and Van Groningen noted that the higher cost of production in California is not a reason for growers to be dissatisfied. 

"The past couple of years produced bumper crops. This year is lower, but still slightly higher than the long-term average. We are also seeing more normal sizes again which is still a good result considering the year we had," Van Groningen noted. "There were some real hot spells in August that caused some losses, as well as resulting in some of the product being too soft or to become sunburned. We're pretty optimistic for October and are looking at healthy prices for our pumpkins. Prices are generally higher out of California as it is a reflection on the higher production costs here."

Clever branding performing well
Van Groningen and Sons have been branding their products as more of a value-added product as opposed to a commodity. Van Groningen said it had to do with the name of the company as well as to help customers identify their product more readily. 

"We certainly brand our products differently," he said. "Our company name doesn't exactly roll of the tongue and we have been branding our products as Pamper'd Pumpkins for the last 15 - 20 years. It's improved sales because it gives a sense of pride to the produce buyer and customer. It helps people identify our products better and encourages them to take a second look, and maybe go on our website if they previously had not thought about it."

For more information: 
Ryan Van Groningen
Van Groningen & Sons
Tel: +1 (209) 982-5248

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