ON Justin Lingo's farm, the pumpkins have grown from a small hobby to a patch bearing 10,000 this fall.
But don't call him to buy just one. Lingo, who operates GreenShade Trees in Yukon, is a wholesaler and sells his pumpkins by the truckload.
“I don't want to have one of my guys sitting on the corner selling pumpkins. I'd rather sell a semi-truck full,” said Lingo, whose main business is growing trees.
But even 10,000 pumpkins weren't enough to supply local pumpkin patches, and he brought in double that amount from out-of-state to fill orders, like the 4,500 pumpkins at this year's Pumpkinville at the Myriad Botanical Gardens.
The imbalance in supply and demand is the main reason the state Agriculture, Food and Forestry Department hosted a group of farmers and buyers to talk pumpkins back in February, said Jamie Cummings, agritourism program administrator for the department.
While many pumpkin patches grow their own, they also buy pumpkins because they can't grow all they need, she said.
Paula Parkhurst, for one, grows pumpkins on 55 acres, where she also operates Parkhurst Pumpkin Patch in Arcadia.
“I mainly grow the small pie pumpkins and gourds,” she said. Parkhurst contracts with other farmers in the western part of the state to supply the rest.
During the summer, she's busy harvesting tomatoes and other produce. She also raises cattle and chickens that produce farm-fresh eggs.
For her, and many other farmers, hosting a pumpkin patch is a way to generate extra income in the fall.
Pumpkins are not a major crop in Oklahoma.
Production statistics were not available because the U.S. Agriculture Department website was subject to the partial government shutdown.
Lynn Brandenberger, an extension vegetable specialist at Oklahoma State University, said there are several small producers in the state who grow 2 to 6 acres, mainly to supply pumpkin patches.
But the majority of the pumpkins consumers find at grocery stores come from large operations in Texas and beyond.
Because of their seasonality, many farmers don't find growing pumpkins attractive, he said.
“We start seeing pumpkins in late September to early October, and they get sold through Halloween and a few after that. Pretty much, that's the market,” he said.
Top pumpkin production states
Source: Agricultural Marketing Resource Center.
To locate a pumpkin patch