Fall season lures families out to pumpkin patches, growers see better season than last year

Business

Chesterfield County, Va. (WRIC)–It’s that time of year again when families enjoy a classic fall tradition: picking pumpkins.

Levi’s Pumpkins along Qualla Road in Chesterfield County has made its mark in the community for the last 22 years. The local pumpkin patch offers games, photo opportunities and pumpkins annually.

Tammy Clarke said her son, Levi, started the family business after studying horticulture in Chesterfield.

“It’s a passion for my son to do this” Clarke said. “He loves doing this for the community.”

Her family prepares for pumpkin season every year starting the first week of June. They plant seeds and then begin a nearly three-month process to grow the pumpkins.

“It’s a mixture of sun and the rain that comes, but this has been an OK season for us,” Clarke said. “We’ve seen it worse.”

Some Virginia farmers said they’ve noticed a difference in pumpkin size following a rainy season this year. Clarke said too much rain can affect the crop.

“Growing pumpkins can be finicky. They do not like a wet season,” Clarke said. “It creates fungus in them that causes the pumpkin to rot.”

According to Clarke, you can tell a pumpkin is ready to be picked once the wood on the stem is mature.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that in 2020, Virginia pumpkin farmers planted 5,500 acres of pumpkins and harvested 5,400 acres that were valued at $17.6 million.

As more families are enjoying the outdoors compared to last year during the pandemic, Clarke said it’s already proving to be a more robust season.

“Our weekends have been increasingly busy,” she said. “I think people are just so happy to have something to come out to.”

Levi’s Pumpkins is open every day of the week until dusk.

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