By Clint Thompson
Pumpkin season is in full swing, and the quality of this year’s crop is unlike any one grower has ever had. Unfortunately, the quantity is also down this year, according to Drew Echols, owner of Jaemor Farms and president of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA).
“Quality is phenomenal. It’s some of the best quality we’ve ever had. We’ve got right at 175 acres. The problem is, that’s about 20 acres more than last year, and yields are probably going to be a little bit down,” said Echols.
He attributed the decrease in yields to the August heat. The plants did not set fruit well. Echols said they aborted fruit, and some didn’t get pollinated. A thinner crop leads to bigger fruit.
“It’s just so daggum hot in August. We really weren’t battling disease in August which is sometimes the case. But it was just really hot, and pumpkins don’t set fruit well in the heat. Overall yields are probably down 20% or so, but literally, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this kind of quality. Size is good. Color is really good. There’s just not as many on the plant,” Echols said.
Echols’ pumpkin acreage has spiked in recent years; from about 50 in 2020, which has more than tripled since. Fortunately, demand has matched the supply this year.
“I can’t seem to get ahead. I had one warehouse full and another barn literally full this morning and had every trailer that I own full, but by the end of the day today, it’s pretty much going to be empty. That’s what you want,” Echols said. “Pumpkins are high right now. We’re the biggest grower in Georgia. Freight really plays into our hands on stuff that’s either staying here in Georgia or going to Florida. You don’t have all of that freight tied up from Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio… that really helps us out a lot.
“It’s hard to see if the frenzy is more this year than it has been or if people are finding out that Jaemor has pumpkins.”
Feature keyphrase: Georgia pumpkins
Slugs: Georgia pumpkins Echols harvest