The Marcellus pumpkin report

Tim's Pumpkin Patch on Rose Hill Road in Marcellis, owned and operated by Tim and Erica Leubner, has become much more than just a place to buy pumpkins over the years. Today, it is a place to take the whole family and spend the day. I sat down with Erica Leubner to find out how the pumpkins are looking this fall and to find out what is new at Tim's this year.

QUESTION: How did the rain this summer affect the pumpkins?

ANSWER: Too much rain doesn't allow the root system of the pumpkin to set and the pumpkins need dry heat in order to get really big. We were very fortunate this summer since we had a dry May and the leaves were big enough by the second half of the summer to tolerate all of the rain we've had. If the leaves had been any smaller, they would have started turning yellow and would have run out of gas. Our pumpkins were able to take the rain without any problems and as a result they are huge this year. Some of our squash are so big that they are practically unrecognizable!

Q: What about the hailstorm?

A: The hailstorms did a number on our corn but the pumpkins were OK since the large leaves protected the pumpkins plus the pumpkins were young enough that there was very little damage.

The Leubners were one of three different farms that participated in a new project this year with Cornell and the Skaneateles Watershed. The project involved planting rye and hairy vetch as a cover crop. That cover crop was then knocked over with a roller crimper and the pumpkin seeds were planted immediately after the cover crop was knocked down without tilling the soil first.

"The pumpkins soak up the nutrients from the rye and hairy vetch. The idea is that the farmers won't have to till the ground as much, which is more environmentally friendly as we wouldn't have to use as much fuel or fertilizer," Erica said. "This is a new project for Cornell. They are constantly coming up with new ideas and techniques. Tim and I are always looking for new progressive ways to plant and we like to stay on top of new ideas."

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