Plan Now for Fall Income

Dora Ann Hatch is the Area Community Rural Development Agent in Northwest Region.

This article originally ran in the Ruston Daily Leader on July 27, 2010.

Fall festivals, hayrides, corn mazes and farm tours are popular in our part of the state and so are the crops associated with them. Pumpkins, gourds and corn are used for ornamental use in homes, businesses and agritourism activities.

During the last two decades, U.S. pumpkin sales have been on the rise. The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center reported that in 2008, 43,400 acres of pumpkins yielded $140.7 million in sales.

Although, Louisiana is not among the top producing pumpkin states there is definitely a market for pumpkins in our state. To capitalize on the fall market, pumpkins should be planted in July. Farmers in Louisiana should allow 70-99 days from planting to harvest. For more information, contact your local LSU AgCenter office.

The LSU AgCenter’s publication, “Squash and Pumpkins in the Home Garden,” provides information on planting and harvesting. The publication also suggests varieties to plant.

Farmers’ markets and roadside stands that continue into the fall generally have large displays of pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. While the traditional orange pumpkin is still the most popular, other pumpkins with white, green or bumpy shells are gaining in popularity.

People who purchase pumpkins are also likely to purchase carving sets or buy stickers for pumpkins. These pumpkin accessories are a great way to increase your income.

Fall agricultural products are the staples of farmers’ markets and roadside stands from September to December. With fewer agricultural products for sale, it can be an opportunity to try something different.

Try these ideas:

  • Sell pumpkin decorating kits.
  • Host a pumpkin carving class.
  • Host a pumpkin decorating contest.
  • Paint Halloween faces on children while parents shop.
  • Create a scene for families to make their own self photos.
  • Partner with a local photographer to use your market or stand for pictures.
  • Host a Halloween costume contest.
  • Set up a photo gallery of pumpkins that people have purchased and then decorated.
  • Create an online gallery.

With all these great plans made, individuals will need to publicize their events. Many people read local and weekly papers for upcoming events and some newspapers have online calendars. Take advantage of these traditional marketing tools.

In addition, use social media marketing to create enthusiasm for the fall season. Create a blog or Facebook page to show the growing season from planting time to harvest. Begin the blog or Facebook page with a picture of the seeds during the planting phase. Then, make weekly pictures to show how the pumpkins are growing.

If you have pumpkins to sell, take advantage of free online listings. List your pumpkin patch, corn maze, hayride or anything associated with Halloween on the Pumpkin Patches and More website,

Within the next few months, the LSU AgCenter will premiere a new online marketing tool called Market Maker to promote Louisiana agriculture sales. When the site is fully functional, it will link seller to buyer. We will provide you with more information as it become available. Check our blogsite for updates.

Please contact me for more information on this topic or if you would like more information.

7/20/2010 12:11:20 AM
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