Weather brings a bumper pumpkin crop for Norfolk’s Halloween harvest
Carvers of spooky jack-o’-lanterns will have an impressive canvas to work with this year after a near-perfect growing season for Norfolk pumpkins.
A dry spring and a wet summer was ideal weather for the autumnal fruit, which has grown large and ripened early – lending an orange hue to the pick-your-own field outside Algy’s Farm Shop at Bintree near Fakenham.
Farmer Algy Garrod said he expected a heightened demand from pumpkin-hunters for his bumper crop.
“Pumpkins love heat,” he said. “We had a beautiful May and June with some really good warm and dry conditions. We had them under horticultural fleece to start with but once they are fruiting they want moisture – and then we had the wet summer. They grew like crazy to fill the fruits.”
The same weather caused headaches for many wheat and barley growers earlier in the year but, while being great for pumpkins, the conditions have also been beneficial for root crops and brassicas – but this bounty has not always been good news for shoppers.
“Ironically, some things have grown too well,” said Mr Garrod. “We get a lot of retired couples coming into the shop and some of our cabbages and cauliflowers are just too big for them. So are the swedes. There are some beautiful vegetables out there, but it all just keeps growing and growing.
“It has been perfect root growing conditions this summer. There is a huge sugar beet crop out there as well and the maize harvest for biogas plants is going to be huge as well.”
The farm has grown pumpkins for many years, but this is only the second season that customers have been invited to “pick-your-own” – another extension to the family business which is also home to Algy’s Norfolk Popcorn and Bintree Bird Seeds.
“Traditionally I brought the pumpkins inside and made a great display but we were always chucking rotten ones out,” said Mr Garrod. “So last year we started doing ‘pick your own’, and it worked well.
“They are all hand-sown, and I mixed up the seeds so you have to go out and hunt for the different sizes and colours.
“The Halloween thing is becoming really big. We can challenge the supermarkets because they have not got the really big pumpkins. You might get one cheaper, but you cannot go out in the field and have a laugh.”