Guy Poskitt – Red Tractor pumpkin farmer
With more than 80,000 tonnes of carrots to grow, harvest and distribute to UK shoppers each year, you would think that Yorkshire farmer Guy Poskitt has enough on his plate.
But since 2012 he has had a new, seasonal focus.
His 90 acres of pumpkins must ripen, be harvested, packed and loaded in to lorries quickly or he misses out on the time-limited Halloween trade.
That 90 acres might not sound a lot, but it’s enough space to grow more than 300,000 of the eye-catching crop, which attracts interest from the public before it even reaches the supermarket.
“I think it’s great to grow something that’s away from our traditional business of carrots, parsnips, other vegetables and combinable crops” he said. “It’s a diversification in to something different. It’s quite exciting – my employees think I’m really obsessed with pumpkins!
“Our fields are really nice to look at in the autumn, people pull up in their cars and take pictures.”
That’s probably because few people will have ever seen a commercial pumpkin growing in the field. Guy grows them from small plants in late May and the cooler climate in the North of England really suits their development.
They actually grow green on the vine and Guy’s team cut the stalk when they have reached the desired size. Pumpkins can still ripen to the familiar orange colour that Halloween shoppers demand once cut from the vine.
With Britain’s unpredictable weather, delivering ripe, orange pumpkins that are the right size can be a challenge.
“Nature ripens something when it’s ready and Halloween doesn’t wait. On 1st November, they’re worthless,” Guy says.
Come harvest time, it’s all hands to the pumpkins.
A team of over 40 employees work in the field and the packing station tirelessly to harvest the pumpkins so they are washed, labelled and in optimum condition to attract shoppers.
Like tens of thousands of other UK farmers, Guy’s M H Poskitt business is Red Tractor assured.
“It’s a label on my business to say I do things properly,” he explained. “It’s a mark on our branding to say we know what we’re doing, we’ve been audited and we’re doing a professional job.”