ShareThis Page

Pumpkin pickers should have a field day this season

| Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, 10:47 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger
Andy Morris of East Franklin uncovers a few pumpkins in the patch that will likely be harvested this weekend. The Morris Farm has been selling produce at a stand along Route 268 since the 1960's. Monday September 17,2012 Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Louis B. Ruediger
Andy Morris shows some decorative Indian corn on the family farm along Route 268 in East Franklin. Monday September 17,2012 Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times

It will soon be pumpkin-picking season in Armstrong County and everyone is wondering if the hot, dry summer will mean bad news in the local pumpkin patches.

Last year the weather was the opposite — wetter than usual, thanks to a hurricane and a tropical storm that drenched the Northeast. The soggy conditions resulted in a smaller number and a bigger price for those bright orange jack-o'-lantern pumpkins used for carving and displaying each fall.

Fear not, all you Charlie Browns out there ­— it looks like you'll be able to find a great pumpkin this year.

Bob Pollock, a horticulture educator at Penn State Extension, says there will enough pumpkins to go around.

“The vine crops like the hotter weather, anyhow,” Pollock said. “They mostly like to be dry. I realize, it was a little too hot at times, and in the 90s for spells, so it won't be a bumper crop, but there should be a pretty steady supply of pumpkins.”

The big, fat pumpkins need water, and pumpkin growers likely used irrigation all summer and especially during the extended dry periods, according to Pollock.

“Most farmers growing vegetables in Armstrong County use either trickle or overhead irrigation,” he said.

With trickle irrigation, the growers use plastic tubing along the ground to pump water from a source such as a pond. Aluminum sprinkler heads water the crops with overhead irrigation.

“If not (without irrigation), size may be down a lot,” said Pollock.

The 150-acre Morris Farm along Route 268 in East Franklin doesn't grow a lot of pumpkins but they are ready, looking good and coming in thick, according to Andy Morris who helps run the family's small farm along with his brother Randy. When Andy Morris isn't harvesting pumpkins or corn, including Indian corn, on their farm, he's milking cows on someone else's farm.

Morris is expecting to harvest the 200 or so pumpkins starting this weekend which they sell to be used as novelty items and jack-o'-lanterns at their small roadside stand at the end of their road along Route 268.

Andy Morris said they price their pumpkins by size — from $5 for the smallest to $20 for the largest — rather than by the pound.

“The pumpkins came up nice,” he said. “They're about the same size and as many as last year. The Indian corn is really long this year too.”

They let the weeds grow up around their pumpkin patch.

“It is awful weedy,” said Andy's mother, Janice Morris. “Sometimes I think the weeds protect them.”

Janice Morris said they don't grow as many pumpkins as they used to.

“We once had a whole field full,” she said. “Thousands of them. And we sold everyone of them.”

Mitch Fryer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.