By Clint Thompson
Pumpkins are not meant to be consistently produced in the South. So, when Alabama farmer John Aplin experiences a bountiful harvest like this season, all he can do is thank the Good Lord above.
“I know in bad years when we’ve got tons of rain, I know what happened and why they went south. On a good year, when we’ve had a really good year like this, I chalk it up to a greater power than I am. That’s just what was decided for us for this year,” said Aplin, co-owner of Aplin Farms in Dothan, Alabama.
He and his brother Tommy produced 10 acres of pumpkins this season and are harvesting the “best pumpkin crop” they have ever produced. John is especially thankful since that is not the case for other growers across Alabama.
“A lot of pumpkins around the nation this year have not got such a good crop because of rain. Pumpkins don’t like rain. They like drier weather. They’ve got to have water, but they don’t like a lot of wet, wet, wet. A lot of our friends in North Alabama have lost a part of their crop, because they had more rain they we did,” Aplin said. “It’s turned off dry here for September and October which works out really well for our pumpkin crop. That’s one reason we think we’ve got a better crop this year.”
Potential for Loss
Aplin Farms is in its 21st year producing pumpkins. John understands the high potential to lose a crop every year because of Alabama’s warm temperatures in the fall. He has had a complete loss in two seasons of growing pumpkins.
“Where we are in the south, we’re not supposed to grow pumpkins. We’re paddling upstream with pumpkins every year. Some years we have almost a total loss. We expect that, because we’re doing something we’re not supposed to be doing,” Aplin said. “If I was trying to grow wholesale pumpkins, it would be crazy. We do all of our pumpkins retail and do the pumpkin patch and all of that stuff that goes along with it. We can make a profit with pumpkins that way.”
Pumpkin farmers also only have a finite window to make a profit. It closes Oct. 31.
“Trying to sell pumpkins on the first of November is like trying to sell Christmas trees on the 26th of December,” Aplin added.