Pumpkin sales squashed by Covid
They are as much a part of Halloween as witches, ghosts and ghoules.
But the humble pumpkin may be out of reach for some this year thanks to Covid.
Growers are having to drastically restrict numbers of visitors to their fields for pick-your-own sessions because of social distancing.
And one of Lancashire’s biggest suppliers - literally - has decided to cancel pumpkin picking altogether and just sell them at the farm gate, by appointment only.
“We just can’t make it safe,” said Mark O’Hanlon of Big Pumpkins in Hesketh Bank. “We can’t handle so many people all at once. Some are inevitably going to miss out this year.”
Pumpkin farms have had to bring in tough restrictions on visitors due to coronavirus, even though most of the action is outdoors. Many are operating a pre-booking system with callers given a precise time slot to control the flow.
At Bradshaws Farm on the A6 near Garstang they are fully booked right up to Halloween itself.
“We’ve had to limit numbers because of what’s going on,” said Olly Bradshaw. “But we’re still busy and the phone hasn’t stopped ringing, it’s been chaos.
"That’s why we can’t take any more people. Every appointment is filled until the day itself.”
Big Pumpkins can grow specimens so large they need a forklift truck to move them. But with events cancelled and pubs shut in Lancashire, many could end up going to waste.
“We specialise in the big ones as centrepieces for special occasions,” explained Mark.
“That’s why it’s been hard this year with so much cancelled. We have been left with a lot. Fortunately the public have come to the rescue by buying a bargain at the farm gate.”