Local orchard's pumpkin patch one of the most abundant crops in a long while

October 25, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • Haylee Watson, left, and Lily Erwin walk out of the pumpkin patch at Lewis Orchids in Smithsburg with their selection.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer

SMITHSBURG, Md. — Lewis Orchards Field Manager Steven Lewis says this year has been one of the best years for the farm’s pumpkin patch.

“We have the nicest and one of the most abundant crops of pumpkins we’ve had in a long while,” he said. “We planted about three acres of pumpkins, and business has been very good with the sales of pumpkins this year.”

Lewis said the season has been great in terms of the amount and the size of the pumpkins. The quality of the pumpkins is also a major reason for the season’s success.

The stem of a pumpkin can be used to measure its quality, Lewis said. Factors such as how solid the stems are and their color along with the shape of a pumpkin can be used to measure quality.

“The stems this year have been excellent,” he said. “They’ve been very firm, and all-around quality this year has been exceptional for pumpkins.”

Pumpkins are larger on average this year than they have been in years past, Lewis said. This year, they have averaged between 18 and 25 pounds, while in previous years they have averaged between 15 and 20 pounds. The largest pumpkin, at 42 pounds, was picked out by a youngster who visited the pumpkin patch with his mother, Lewis said.

This year Summit pumpkin seeds and Apogee pumpkin seeds were two major varieties planted, according to Lewis, and both would be good for carving.

“We have a lot of very nicely shaped pumpkins this year,” he said. “We also planted some varieties that tended not to get large, and on average they weighed about five pounds.”

Miniature pumpkins are measured in ounces, he said.

The pumpkins were planted in early June and harvest began in September. The farm sells fresh produce out of a building at 11739 Mapleville Road in Smithsburg. The pumpkin patch is next to the building.

“We were fortunate enough to be able to plant the patch close enough to the fruit stand that people can just walk into the field and pick out what they want,” he said. “We also pick some ourselves. When we’re harvesting a trailer load we’ll try to get a variety of sizes so that those individuals that don’t want to walk out into the field can just pick the ones right here.”

Pumpkins sales are seasonal, with a peak period from mid-September through Halloween.

Pumpkins were sold this year at 45 cents a pound.

The orchard is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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