Pumpkin

Agriculture: The Pumpkin Update

Pumpkin

Cary, NC — Pumpkins are already starting to grow in the vast fields of the Upchurch Farm – which are just minutes away from Cary and Morrisville.

The Pumpkin Series

If you haven’t been following the pumpkin series, I’ll catch you up.

A month ago, I announced that Cary’s Upchurch Farm will be the place to go for pumpkins this year. Farmers William Upchurch and Dr. Ganyard are growing multiple fields of more than 35 pumpkin varieties. Guests will be able to pick their own pumpkins and enjoy other activities.

Shortly after publishing that article, I visited the farm again to write about the special pumpkin-growing process that Dr. Ganyard is using to grow the best pumpkins in the Triangle.

Today, a month later, I’ll share some pictures of the growing pumpkins.

Photos of the Growing Pumpkins

The pumpkin plants grow quickly – which is good, since October is just over a month away!

Upchurch

upchurch

The pictures above show how some of the plants have grown. Some fields have larger plants, though, and some are already growing pumpkins.

upchurch

If you lift up the leaves of some of the plants, you’ll see this.

upchurch

Bees Do Their Part

Did you know that pumpkins grow from flowers? Bees pollinate the flower to fertilize it, and, then, the flower’s ovary turns into a pumpkin. The flower dries up and falls off. In a grown pumpkin, you can look at the bottom to see a scar from where the flower dropped off.

Dr. Ganyard told me that it takes an average of 50 bee visits for a female flower to become pollinated. Without bees, we wouldn’t have pumpkins.

pumpkin

The pumpkin flowers look like stars.

pumpkin

Keeping the Pumpkins Healthy

In my last article, I explained why Dr. Ganyard grows the pumpkins on white plastic – in short, the plastic protects the pumpkin from getting splashed with soil or dirty water, and the white color deters aphid bugs from biting the plant and infecting it.

I noticed that, now, some of the plants have grown so large that you can’t even see the plastic. I asked Dr. Ganyard how he continues to keep the plants healthy in this stage of growth. “At this point,” he said, “The plants are susceptible to mildew, so we spray an oil on them.”

Weird & Exotic Pumpkins

The farmers are growing multiple fields of pumpkins – one field will feature small pumpkins that children can pick and carry home, a couple fields will contain your average “Jack-o-Lantern pumpkins,” and another – this is my favorite – will house “weird and exotic pumpkins.”

I was excited to check the progress of this field, where Dr. Ganyard shook up 37 different varieties of pumpkin seeds in a jar and planted them randomly throughout the rows.

This field is the most advanced, because some pumpkins were almost ready to be picked.

pumpkins

pumpkin

As you can see, this field is fun! The large plants covering these beauties will make each discovery a surprise. Dr. Ganyard calls it “a pumpkin scavenger hunt.”

You’ll be able to find orange pumpkins with black patterns on their tops and bottoms, pumpkins with yellow and green stripes and white, black, tan, orange, golden, yellow and even blue varieties! Some will have warts and some will be shaped like gourds. I’m particularly excited to find a blue pumpkin. “They come from New Zealand,” Dr. Ganyard told me.

An Exciting Time

If all goes according to plan, all the pumpkins will be ready by September 25, 2015.

I love summer, but, after seeing the pumpkin fields, I’ve decided that it’s officially the time to get excited about fall. Dr. Ganyard is excited, too. He told me that:

Yesterday, William, Will [William’s son] and I walked through this field for the first time together since the pumpkins had started growing. You start to get excited. All that hard work is turning to fun – it’s an exciting time.

Keep reading CaryCitizen for more pumpkin updates.

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Story and photos by Jessica Patrick.

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