Growing the perfect pumpkin during a challenging year

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Irrigation helped Fulton Farms grow an incredible crop according to production manager, Joe Fulton.

The combined rainfall for July, August, and September was 2.5 inches below normal for Dayton.

“We had a lot of rain early and then it just completely stopped on us and so we we ran into a drought,” Fulton said. “We had to make some minor adjustments and water some things that we normally didn’t have to.”

Fulton said the drier conditions did lead to greener stems on the Pumpkins.

“One benefit of the dry season is you don’t get as much powdery mildew. You keep a lot greener of a stem and the pumpkins don’t get infected,” Fulton said. “So they do a lot better when you don’t have a whole bunch of rain, a whole bunch of moisture on them.”

He said it’s important to keep a healthy stem.

“When you pick your pumpkin you want to find the end of the stem, and then and then you break it off,” Fulton said. “It will create a scab and your pumpkin will last a lot longer.”

A stem snapped in the wrong place can lead to problems.

“If you snap it, it will actually start leaking water out of it,” Fulton said. “You want to find a nice green stem that shows that the pumpkin is still solid and it’s going to have a good shelf life for you.”

The pumpkins were able to grow with a little extra water, but hayrides continue to be a concern heading into the pumpkin picking season.

“It was kind of a coin toss because we were worried about not being able to do hayrides at all,” Fulton said. “We were fortunate that we can, we just have to go with wider spacing.”

To keep everyone six feet apart the wagons are separated into four quadrants.

Social distancing is also required while waiting in line.

“We’re still working with the COVID regulations and we’re working to keep everybody safe out here,” Fulton said.

New this year are weekday hayrides from 3-5 p.m. to help cut down on the weekend crowd.

“If you want to come when it’s less busy, that’s fine, come out. We have a maze. We have the hayride. We have the barn yard animals.

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