VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) --In the South Valley pumpkin harvest is in full swing and the crop is looking better than it has in years. Autumn colors may be hard to find, but the South Valley is falling for the season change and getting ready for a time-honored tradition.
"What we try to do is provide good family entertainment so you can come spend the time with your kids and make some memories in the process and take a pumpkin home." Kirk Vossler of Vossler Farms said.
When it comes to this year's pumpkin harvest, it's all treat and no tricks at Vossler Farms. Vossler said he and his family prepare all year for this season. And despite a number of challenges, including the drought boosting production costs, he said this year is a quality crop.
"I don't think this summer as been as bad as it's been in the past," Vossler said. "And it seemed like it got a little cooler earlier and that helps in terms of the pumpkin putting weight on they develop a thicker shell when it gets cooler at night so that helps too."
It's a stark contrast from last year's nationwide pumpkin shortage. In Illinois, heavy rain destroyed much of the crop. While in California, the second-largest pumpkin producer in the US, the crop sprouted early because of the warm winter.
Though water typically dominates the decision-making process for farmers, Vossler made this year's crop smaller in response to sales.
"I had to back off a little bit from what I did last year," he said. "Last year I had a 20-acre field and I didn't end up selling them. I ended up disking up a little more than what a guy is comfortable with."
Depending on the variety, it takes about 90 to 120 days to grow a pumpkin. As for when it's perfect for picking, it has to be about two-thirds orange.
"Well right now I have about eight or 10 guys down there and they go through and cut the pumpkins ready loose off the vine," Vossler said. "And then they'll stack them."
To avoid sun exposure and unseasonably warm temperatures, they cover the pumpkins with vines.
"The sun will just destroy them if they sit out there a couple of days they'll get soft they'll melt and they won't be any good," Vossler said.