By: Diego Flammini
Ontario pumpkin growers are pleased with how their yields are looking this year.
Growers produce pumpkin and squash across 4,248 acres throughout the province, the 2016 Census of Agriculture said.
Farms.com connected with some pumpkin producers to discuss the crop and how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed family pumpkin-picking experiences.
Paul Brooks usually plants around 25 acres of pumpkins at Brooks Farms in Mount Albert, Ont.
But in light of the pandemic, Brooks decided to scale back planting to about 15 acres in June and change where he planted the crop.
“Instead of putting the pumpkins in a field that would be accessible by wagon and tractor rides, we planted them in a hay field where customers could go park,” he told Farms.com. “This way we can ensure distancing and the safety of our customers and staff.”
The farm also has a market on-site and masks are mandatory while on the farm.
From a crop production standpoint, the pumpkins look good.
Timely rains and product applications gave the pumpkins what they needed to grow, Brooks said.
“It was a very dry beginning, but once we got rain, the pumpkins sized up nicely,” he said. “We were able to get into the fields with our herbicides and pesticides to control weeds and avoid the cucumber beetle.”
Karen Good, co-owner of Good Family Farm in Waterloo, Ont. is also pleased with her pumpkin crop.
“We had a nice warm summer,” she told Farms.com. “They ripened about a week or two earlier than last year and overall, everything looks really good.”
The farm plants about 10 acres annually. Following a routine product application schedule has helped over the years, she said.
“We do crop rotation and spray herbicides and pesticides every year,” she said. “If we didn’t do one of those steps, we would have a hard time getting a crop, so we’re always making sure we’ve got our bases covered.”
Good’s farm sells its pumpkins at its farm stand.
Staff have posted signs reminding customers about physical distancing. Masks are mandatory while at the stand, and hand-sanitizing stations are also available.
Visitors have been respectful of the new rules, Good said.
“People are good about following the guidelines,” she said. “I think most of us just understand now that we’re likely going to need masks when we go out.”