A look at how one local pumpkin patches prepare to open this fall

Sep. 1—With the start of fall right around the corner, many pumpkin patches are making their final preparations before opening their doors.

Schweizer Orchards in St. Joseph has been a Missouri family business since the 1900s. While the business opens its pumpkin patch in the fall, the owners also grow other produce.

"For the most part we are a 'U-pick' type orchard as far as strawberries when they're ready, then blueberries, blackberries, peaches, apples and eventually into the pumpkins," said Stacy Furbee, manager at Schweizer Orchards. "After that, we have Christmas trees."

With Schweizer Orchards not opening their pumpkin patch until the end of September, staff there is still taking care of the pumpkins on the vines.

"They'll weed them and get them ready for the public and everything," Furbee said. "The vines are going to be there regardless, but we still water and fertilize."

Schweizer Orchards offers many different activities for the family this fall.

"You'll be able to take a wagon ride up and pick out your pumpkin and come back out, shoot some apples cannons if you want to," Furbee said. "There will be a corn maze and we'll also have a little train ride for kids. We'll have the little train station going to where you can get slushies, pop, s'more kits where you can roast your own marshmallows, hot dogs where you can roast your own. It's a good time of the year."

Furbee said the next couple of weeks are busy while trying to get everything done.

"Right now, it's still just a corn patch but before we open it, they'll go ahead and mow through it and make ins and outs," Furbee said. "We'll put the signs up there saying entrance and exits and things like that."

Furbee said while the weather this summer has been nothing unusual for Missouri, it did cause some produce delays.

"The rain has been nice when we get it, and we've had more than we've had in the past but when it's not raining, we do have to irrigate," Furbee said. "But the temperature here has fluctuated back and forth and has caused a delay in some things.

While peach season normally would be over at this point in time, Schweizer Orchards still has some that aren't even harvested yet.

"It's just been hit and miss and (be) sporadic," Furbee said. "You just don't know, it's all on Mother Nature and God so, we just have to wait and see what they give us to work with."

Schweizer Orchards is also busy with apple season.

"There's still a lot to be done, but right now, it's apple season, so they're picking and packing apples so it's time consuming, but it does get done," Furbee said.

Furbee said they are prepared to be busy this fall when their doors open.

"The only slow time is like maybe the week before school starts and the week school starts," Furbee said. "It's come and go all the time and weekends are very crazy which is great."

Schweizer Orchards will open its pumpkin patch the last week of September and will remain open through the end of October. For more information about their harvest schedule visit the website at www.schweizerorchards.com.