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Wet weather detains but does not destroy pumpkin harvest

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CANTON - Some pumpkin growers in St. Lawrence County are picking and displaying the largest pumpkins they’ve seen in years.

Following an abundant apple harvest in the area, pumpkins are making their way to stores and roadside stands.

Suzanne M. Noble’s roadside stand is selling pumpkins, with more in the patch to be picked.

“We’re open and ready for business and we look forward to seeing lots of kids picking out their biggest pumpkins ever,” she said.

Mrs. Noble’s family has had a pumpkin patch at Old State Road and Lincoln Road in Canton for 18 years.

She said that although a rainy spring forced them to replant parts of their crop, slowing the pumpkins down by about two weeks, they’ve been picking the largest pumpkins they’ve ever had.

“We had such torrential downpours in the spring that we had to replant, which we’re not used to,” she said. “They got a later start than we typically have, but the pumpkins got extremely large this year.”

Mrs. Noble’s 4-acre patch produced thousands of pumpkins this year, but not as many as last year, she said.

The family also has a roadside stand on Route 11 between Canton and DeKalb where it sells a variety of squash, pumpkins and specialty pumpkins.

“The buttercup squash are smaller this year and the butternuts are bigger,” Mrs. Noble said. “It’s hard dealing with Mother Nature because you just never know what you’re going to get.”

Michael B. Livingston, a pumpkin harvester of nine years, said he had similar experiences this year with his patch.

He, too, had to replant some of his specialty pumpkins, and most of them are about two weeks late.

“The first bunch we planted was a complete wipeout and nothing came up,” he said. “That wet, cold spat in early June rotted the seeds.”

Mr. Livingston, 3967 Route 11, DeKalb Junction, said ideal weather for pumpkins is warm and dry in May and June so the seeds will sprout, followed by rain to help them grow and night temperatures below 70 degrees. “That’s why they can’t grow pumpkins in the South, because it’s too warm at night,” he said.

Despite the trouble early on, Mr. Livingston said, the regular jack-o’-lantern pumpkins were not affected by the early wet spell. Overall, he said, the crop is one of the best he’s seen in awhile.

“The pumpkins are a good size,” he said. “The best we’ve had in years.”

Mr. Livingston said he harvests about 10 kinds of pumpkins and 10 varieties of squash every year.

“Everything is late, but they’re coming in looking really good,” he said.

Mr. Livingston said he will be putting up his full pumpkin display this weekend, preparing for business to pick up as October approaches.

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