Pumpkin patch business ready to boom
Ward Studt and Kim and Brett Constable go to great lengths to open Studt’s Pumpkin Patch on 22 Road near J Road for one month a year.
During October, the trio will sell thousands of pumpkins on seven acres of land, offer a corn maze with three miles of pathways, operate a petting zoo and, on the weekends, showcase activities such as camel rides and a cannon that uses compressed air to send pumpkins flying.
“Three-hundred-eighty-eight yards is the farthest we’ve gotten” a pumpkin to soar, Kim Constable said.
Before the excitement of Halloween season, the Constables and Studt shelled out approximately $2,000 for seeds, hired seasonal workers to set up irrigation in the field and spent up to 10 hours a week all summer long tending to the growing pumpkins.
The pumpkin seeds went into the soil in June and the corn for the corn maze was planted in May. A man from Wisconsin generated a map for the maze on a computer, using global positioning technology. The maze path cuts the patch’s logo among the stalks: a corn cob with a jack-o’-lantern head wearing a witch’s hat. The path was made by spraying and killing certain corn stalks in accordance with the map.
Weather can make or break a pumpkin patch and corn maze business. A Sept. 15 article in USA Today said New England and Midwestern pumpkin farmers contended with cold, damp summers, which are poor conditions for growing pumpkins. Without a chance to dry out in the heat, Constable said, pumpkins can develop bacterial diseases and spots.
Luckily, the summer in Grand Junction wasn’t as cold or rainy, especially once June passed, and Constable said this year’s yield looked good compared to a more disease-prone crop last year. This is the Constables’ second year on the 22 Road property and third year helping to run a pumpkin patch. With the closure of Jouflas Pumpkin Patch, Studt’s is the only major patch available in Grand Junction this Halloween.
The rest of the year, Studt leases land and owns sheep, while Brett Constable works at the Fruita Co-op, and his wife works at her parents’ welding and fabrication shop.
From 4:30 to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 4:30 to 10 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays in October, though, they’ll be collecting $5 or more for pumpkins and $4 from each person walking through the corn maze, which takes at least an hour to complete.
Constable said attendance varies, but there’s rarely a dull moment in the pumpkin patch. One day last year, they had more than 1,000 people come through, she said.
Come November, the field will be sparsely dotted with leftover pumpkins. The corn will be harvested and used for animal feed. And, hopefully, there will be some money in the cash register.
“It’s profitable,” Constable said, adding, “Don’t quit your day job.”