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Pumpkin shortages no issue for Lancashire – but growers ‘truly rinsed’ by rising costs

Rumours of pumpkin penury in the run up to Halloween have been quashed by farmers in Lancashire, following reports of shortages elsewhere in the country.

Pumpkin growers in the south are warning that this year’s harvest could drop by as much as a third, thanks to the summer’s drought and poor weather. One of the country’s principal pumpkin wholesale growers told the Telegraph that this year could be ‘trickier,’ telling the newspaper that drought, combined with a poor yield leads to ‘a shortage.’

Foxes Farm, one of the leading pumpkin wholesale growers delivering throughout the UK to wholesale outlets, retail outlets, and fellow pumpkin patches, has pumpkin patches in Basildon and Colchester which attracts crowds every year.

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However, no such penury exists in the bountiful lands of Lancashire, it has been confirmed, although farmers are struggling to cope generally with higher prices. Joe Appleton, of Downholland based farm Pumpkin Alley, near Ormskirk, told LancsLive that this year’s pumpkin harvest was looking good thanks to organic farming and meticulous attention.

He told Lancs Live: “All good at the pumpkin patch; no expense spared growing them during a tricky season, foliar feeding, weeding and watering. They are looking good; I think it’s been a tougher season down south with a severe drought.”

The hugely popular pumpkin picking patch introduced an online booking system last year after scenes of ‘bedlam’ in October 2020 at the height of the pandemic, when the farm’s parking area suddenly flooded the weekend before Halloween, other farms ran out of pumpkins and thousands of pumpkin seeking visitors arrived en-masse in the normally quiet fields of the West Lancashire farm. Based at Poplar Farm in Downholland which also specialises in growing sunflowers and other flowers, Pumpkin Alley grows much of its pumpkins organically, using muck instead of pesticides.

Mr Appleton added that the cost of living crisis was proving a challenge in the industry generally, thanks to price hikes in the petrochemical industry, but that his farm wasn’t affected. He said: “We have been truly rinsed by the petrochemical companies in general – fuel double price, fertiliser three fold increase. Luckily I don’t use agrochemicals – we look after the bees, ladybirds and butterflies on our farm, but I believe most have gone up by half as much again.”



Roby Mill Pumpkin Patch in Up Holland
Roby Mill Pumpkin Patch in Up Holland

A similarly optimistic note on the pumpkin situation came from Roby Mill Pumpkin Patch in Up Holland, nearby, where staff said they were gearing up for a good season and that most of the harvest was in. In a statement on Facebook, staff at the pumpkin patch said: “We’re sorry that we have been a little quiet lately but we’ve been busy in the fields harvesting our crops. Now that we have most of our harvest in, we are 100% focussed on our pumpkin patch and we’d like to let you know some of what we have planned for 2022 .”

Adding that the patch would open on October 8 at 10am, they said it would be open most days until Halloween, with free tickets required for busy periods at weekends and half term. They added: “We’re so excited to let you know that this year we will be teaming up with our fabulous local pub, The Fox Roby Mill! They will have a pop up food outlet on site at the Pumpkin Patch serving a wonderful selection of food and drinks for you all to enjoy.

“Please make sure you look at the schedule below to see which days that The Fox will be with us! We will be opening our Patch on Friday 8th October at 10am! The Patch will then be open most days until Halloween.” To find out more about Pumpkin Alley, click here, and for more details on Roby Mill Pumpkin Patch, click here.

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