(The Center Square) – October has barely started but pumpkin buyers have been bringing home pumpkins since Labor Day.
Molly Christ, manager of the family-owned Christ Orchard in Elmwood, said they used to wait until October to open the pumpkin patch, but these days buyers don’t want to wait to get pumpkins for their doorsteps and fall parties.
“We start selling decorative pumpkins on Labor Day. The demand is there,” Christ said.
Traditional big orange jack-o’-lanterns are always in demand. The most popular pumpkins are still the huge orange monsters that make a statement when they are carved up for Halloween. Yet people are always looking for something unique or weird or spooky, so Christ Orchard tries to grow as many varieties and sizes of pumpkins as they can.
Ten years ago, Christ started growing a few types of white pumpkins and buyers have gotten to love them. This year, one buyer ordered 100 white pumpkins for a big fall party, Christ said. A white pumpkin jack-o’-lantern on a dark, chilly fall night looks ghostly.
For another layer of spookiness, the new trend in pumpkins these days is warts. Christ grows a new variety of warty pumpkins called a Grizzly–a tan pumpkin that is covered in witchy warts. People are taking to it, she said.
Decorators and Christ herself are drawn to the grey-blue-greenish heirloom pumpkins called Jarrahdale. Like a Hubbard squash, people can cook a Jarrahdale, but people are buying the Jarrahdales for displays, Christ said.
“The Jarrahdale has been around for a long time but it has kind of been rediscovered for the decorating aspect,” Christ said. “Next to flatter red pumpkins and white pumpkins, the blue/grey/green color of the Jarrahdale really adds interest,” she said.
Another trend is stacking three or four pumpkins of different colors in a pumpkin tower.
The pumpkin harvest in Illinois came in a little later this year than usual. A drought hit Illinois in June, just when the plants were germinating, so the crop got a slow start but rains came in the nick of time.
Illinois remains the number one state in the U.S. for its pumpkin harvest.