September 27, 2013

Pumpkin Grower Starts A Busy Season

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Bryan Van Groningan
Bryan Van Groningan, with Van Groningan and Sons, a diversified farming operation in the San Joaquin County around Manteca, is busy in his 1,250 acres of pumpkin fields this week. There is a big demand to fill as Halloween and other fall holidays are approaching.

“We planted in May and nearly everything this year has been going very smooth. We did have a hot spell in September that caused some problems on our mini-pumpkins and ornamental gourds that were close to harvest,” Van Groningan said.  “We lost about 10 percent of that crop due to cosmetic damage."

“However, everything else, including our big carving pumpkin fields, are doing very well after a great growing season,” he said. “We have shut the water off of all of our fields in preparation for big harvest throughout the last few days of 
September and all through late October."

“We usually start the harvest of our early plantings just after Labor Day,” noted Van Groningan. “We harvested about three truckloads a day all the way up to Sept. 20 or so. This week we have picked up the volume---shipping 10 to 15 loads a day, and we will increase our shipment steadily all the up to Oct. 25.”

Prices for his crops are usually quite stable, barring any crop failures in the west. Van Groningan said his markets are the western states, including Texas, Arizona and Utah, with about 80 percent of his business in California.