Garden centres preferred target for pumpkin suppliers

US pumpkin grower and consultant Mark Dellinger told growers at Tozer Seeds' open day earlier this month how he and other growers aim to supply garden centres with a premium product rather than relying on "big box stores" that are "more relaxed" on specifications.

Pumpkins: a premium product
Pumpkins: a premium product

"The garden centres want a 30lb (14kg) fruit with no defects and a handle to carry it with," he said. "They will buy a (pallet-sized) bin for $125 and sell it for three times that. A large one will sell for $30."

Growers expect to yield 80-100 bins, giving a turnover of $11,000 per acre (£17,000 per hectare), yielding $6,000 profit after costs. By contrast, Dellinger said: "I once delivered 17 trailers of pumpkins to Walmart and made $3,000 profit."

Packing alternate pumpkins upsidedown ensures minimal damage to handles, while a two per cent peroxide solution "sterilises the pumpkin so they have it as long as possible", he added.

- More on pumpkin and squash trials, p28.

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