In the Netherlands, the pumpkin season is now beginning, slowly but surely. The mild, wet summer has, however, delayed the harvest by at least a fortnight. "We need sunshine," says pumpkin grower Chris Poelen of Groentenhof Poelen. He is currently harvesting. "The pumpkins still have a lot of foliage. That has usually mostly died off by now, making harvesting easier. I can begin harvesting but must first remove the leaves. Then, the pumpkins must remain in the ground so they can change color. They're still too dull. I can get started, but, above all, I must be patient."
"Had to get rid of tons of pumpkins"
Chris was left with 10,000 kg of pumpkin last year. These did not meet supermarket specifications. Last year's summer was dry. So the pumpkins were a little small, albeit of good quality. This was widely reported in the Dutch media. And Chris managed to sell those pumpkins through various channels. "This year's pumpkins are of excellent quality. It seems they're a bit larger this year. They've certainly had more than enough rain. I can't really tell, though, through all the foliage," he says.
Quiet now, hectic later
About 80% of the crop is edible pumpkins. The remainder is sold as decorations. That includes Halloween pumpkins. "The harvest is already two weeks late. Now, we hope for sunshine and must patiently wait until the pumpkins color sufficiently. Halloween won't wait for me to finish harvesting. So, we'll have to work twice as hard soon to make up for all this easy work."
Pumpkins have, so far, become more popular by the year. Demand keeps rising too. However, the market is stabilizing somewhat this year, according to Chris. "Without sales channels, you shouldn't start growing pumpkins anyway. Make sure you have that in place first," he concludes.