(Photo by Leonna Heuring, Staff)
SIKESTON -- If it's big pumpkins they want this year, local residents shouldn't have a problem finding them.
"This is the best quality crop we've ever had. It's not the biggest crop we've had, but the best quality," David Diebold, owner of Diebold's Orchard in Benton,
The pumpkins are intensely orange and a nice, plump size, Diebold said.
"I'm having a problem finding smaller pumpkins," Diebold said.
Missouri is not really considered pumpkin country, Diebold said.
"Pumpkins don't like it hot. August was milder and July was hot so evidently the conditions were right so the pumpkins could do well," Diebold said.
Diebold said besides the ideal weather for growing pumpkins, he also thinned out his crop a little more this year to give them more room to grow, which he thinks contributed to the nice-looking crop.
"We've got the quality of the pumpkins. It all looks real good this year," Diebold said.
Donnie Beggs, owner of Beggs Family Farm, grows small pumpkins for his u-pick pumpkin patch which opens to schools and the public in October.
"We've got some nice pumpkins this year so I think we'll have a good crop," Beggs said.
Other fall decorations to dress up homes or lawns are also available now.
Besides pumpkins, mums are a popular plant used as fall accents.
Mums are blooming earlier this year and have lots of color, Diebold said.
"Mums are a fall thing and one of biggest fall decorations other than pumpkins," said Justine Hulshof, a junior and president of Kelly High School FFA chapter.
The Kelly High School FFA Chapter has sold mums as a fundraiser for at least the past five years.
"It's one of our biggest fundraisers. We have four different sizes and three colors -- red, white and yellow. We sell at least 300 mums during the fundraiser," Hulshof said, adding the average sale is three mums.
Brenda Caudle, nursery manager at Bizzle Nursery Co. in Sikeston, said some people begin their autumn decorating in August.
"But the real fall decorating usually doesn't start until the real pumpkins, straw bales, corn stalks and fall pansies arrive," Caudle said.
Corn was expected to arrive Friday, and straw bales should arrive later this week with pumpkins coming in October, Caudle said.
"Fall plant and decoration sales start picking up when mums start to bloom which they're now starting to bloom," Caudle said.
Besides mums, fall pansies, which are a hybrid and can withstand the cold weather are very popular this time of year, Caudle said. The business even had a waiting list for customers wanting to purchase the flowers.
"Most of the time people plant pansies and sit mums around the front door," Caudle said.
A lot of customers place garland and lights around their doors, Caudle said.
"That is starting to catch on here," Caudle said.
Ceramic and clay pumpkins as well as fall-themed garden flags are also popular items.
Caudle said she thinks the earlier displaying of mums, pansies and other fall-themed items each year represents a readiness for a change in seasons.
"People are burnt out on summer. They're ready for fall," Caudle said.