FLOYDADA, Texas — For many of you, pumpkins signal the start of fall. But this West Texas farmer could be considered a national expert on them.
There’s so many pumpkins here that Tim Assiter, head wrangler at Assiter Punkin Ranch, wouldn't venture a guess of how many he has.
This insane amount of pumpkins has put Floydada on the map as the “Pumpkin Capital of the USA.”
It’s home to just over 2,500 people, but there might be more pumpkins than people.
"What I would like to say is we've probably raised 30,000 to 40,000 pounds to the acre, and there's probably about 1,200 acres in Floydada," Assiter said. "I don't have that many but in total there's about 1,200 acres. So if you figured that out and divided it by about 20 pounds per pumpkin, there's a bunch of them."
Floydada is about two and a half hours Northwest of the Midland-Odessa area.
"Well, there were so many growers and starting in the 1950s from Floydada they started raising pumpkins," Assiter explained the history of the capital. "And in 1993 we had 35 growers with 3,000 acres. Today we have about 1,200 acres but we raised about the same amount of pumpkins. [...] So it's a great place to grow pumpkins, we grow them here, we grow a lot of them. The Floydada pumpkin is very famous and we ship it all over the country."
Assiter Pumpkin Ranch started almost 70 years ago, and Tim Assiter calls himself the head wrangler.
Chances are if you’ve ever bought a pumpkin, there’s a good chance it originally came from this patch.
They come in all shapes and sizes. There’s 171 different varieties of pumpkins, ranging from $1 to $100.
"I like the big guys myself," Assiter says while pointing to a pumpkin that's goes up to his knees. "They're called Prizewinners. And I love the prize winner pumpkin. It's something that I like to grow, enjoy to grow. I like to see people go wild at it. I've seen several people cut that out and put their kids down in there or make a cooler out of this for their Halloween party. It is very, very fun. When people see this pumpkin, they come up and they want it, and we had some people -- out of Midland as a matter of fact -- come up and and I said that pumpkins are going into the fair, it's not for sale, and he offered me an outrageous amount of money for it and he took it home with him."
Pumpkins can be hard to grow without water, and with how dry Texas can be, Assiter has an irrigation system.
"Underneath this field is drip irrigated," Assiter explained. "And so we've got a pipe that runs the length of the field 80 inches apart. And what we do is we sub irrigate this with that. We've got four sections that we water and they get watered every other day. And so with this dry year that we've had, we were not sure that we were going to have a lot of pumpkins this year. We've been very fortunate that we've had the irrigation system that we've had."
Caring for all these pumpkins means a little research and Tim has done all of that for you.
"There's a lot that people can learn about pumpkins, how to care for them and all that," Assiter said. "But with 171 varieties, if you go to our Facebook page Assiter Punkin Ranch, we post a lot of pictures about the different names and some of the different things that people might not normally get."
On a farm like this, pumpkin profits are important, but there’s something else that Assiter appreciates even more.
"It is very difficult because it's labor intense and there's a lot of hours involved," Assiter said. "We're out here seven days a week, a lot of hours a day. But what makes it pay off in the end, it's not the money that comes off the trucks or anything. It's the little kids that come out here and their eyes light up. They paint their pumpkin, they take their pumpkin home and how proud they are of their pumpkin. We have people drive as far as from Austin to come and buy pumpkins from us. That is amazing. That means they're very excited about them and very proud. And when you see that excitement that the kids have when they get their pumpkin, there's the payoff."
Assiter Pumpkin Ranch is having their 35th annual "Punkin' Days" event on October 8th.