NewsPrice of ParadiseAgriculture


Viruses, wet rainy season and timing of planting impacts farmers' ability to grow pumpkins in the Valley

Posted at 6:50 AM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 09:57:39-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Whether you buy pumpkins to carve or make pumpkin pie, it might be difficult to get your hands on one this year.

Steve Murray, farmer and founder of Murray Family Farms sees the challenges firsthand.

"We have a large watermelon and cantaloupe industry here," said Murray. "What happens is about the date that we're pulling out the melons, we're planting pumpkins."

The timing of planting is important, in order to ensure that the crop is harvested by this time of year.

"There's a massive amount of whiteflies and aphids that leave the melons and move into the pumpkins and bring with them mosaic viruses that can spread," Murray said.

The insects are attracted to cucurbit crops which include pumpkin, zucchini and watermelon.

Experts with the University of California said planting late and the potential of the insects make growing the crop in the Valley risky.

"Aphids are a very small insect or they can be sort of Amber colored, to greenish to black and they suck on the plants," David Haviland, Entomology Farm Adviser for the University of California said. "You'll see them on the leaves, particularly on the undersides of the leaves".

The recent rainy season that we saw in the Spring contributes to the potential of these insects.

"In particularly rainy years, we tend to get more plants that host the aphids and hosts of viruses," Haviland said.

However, Murray anticipates a good season for his field of orange round pumpkins.

"It seems like it's going to be a good year, but they'll be slightly more expensive in the Valley," Murray said.

The quality and the size of the pumpkin will determine the cost, however, Murray Family Farms is offering a free pumpkin with paid admission into their farms.

Murray Family Farms is located at 6700 General Beale Road in East Bakersfield.