Pumpkins for a Cure

Maggie Roth’s immensely successful Pink Pumpkin Patch near Holcomb started out as a FFA project and has become a huge fundraising project for Breast Cancer. Last year Maggie ended up donating over $28,000 to breast cancer research. Come along as Jim Shroyer introduces us to Maggie and her dad, Duane, and we learn how it got started, how it is planted, fertilized and cared for and how Maggie helped involve other FFA chapters in this rewarding SAE.

(Jim) Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer your host and you know, it’s Halloween time and we all know that pumpkins are orange. Right? Well, wrong. Not all pumpkins are orange. Some are pink. And we’re in western Finney County this morning and we’re going to be talking to Maggie Roth here in just a second and she has an FFA project that you’ll want to hear about. So, folks stay with us. We’ll be right back. Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission, the Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Jim) Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer your host. And we’re in luck because we’re in western Finney County in the big town of Holcomb and with us today we have Maggie Roth. And Maggie has probably got the biggest pink pumpkin patch in all of Kansas. Just not too far from Holcomb here. And like I said, we all know we have orange pumpkins, but you’ve brought pink pumpkins to Kansas and I want to know why. Why? Why are you growing pink pumpkins. (Maggie) Well, we started off
with my SAE because when I was a freshman and I came back from Louisville, from national convention, we wanted to choose an SAE for me. (Jim) And an SAE is what? (Maggie) It’s a Supervised Agricultural Experience. (Jim) For your FFA project. OK. (Maggie) And we were doing some research on the internet that winter and we came across the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation website. And we did a little research on it and decided to call the president who at the time was Don Goodwin and to see if we could get involved through the FFA as an FFA project. And he said that that would be OK. But then we decided why not get other chapters involved? (Jim) Not just Holcomb but here in the state, right? (Maggie) Yeah. Throughout the nation. (Jim) Oh, OK. (Maggie) We were thinking. Like try to get one or two chapters in so many states that year and then grow from there. (Jim) Now this Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation is basically for what? (Maggie) They have certain growers. Like you can sign up and sign a contract with the┬áPink Pumpkin Patch Foundation and their seed companies. And the growers will plant these pumpkins in late May or early June and once they harvest in October they will donate a certain percentage of each pumpkin sold back to the foundation. And then after everyone has given their money back to the foundation, the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation will accumulate the money from all their different growers and give one or two grants to a breast cancer research organization that actually does the research not just promoting it or…actually doing real research. (Jim) Is it just yours or is it the whole FFA organization here in Holcomb? I mean do you have other classmates that help you out with it? (Maggie) Well, it’s my SAE, but I have classmates who will come and help me hoe the pumpkin patch, help me sell and help me just do a lot of other things like set up the irrigation system and sell and harvest and stuff. (Jim) So, you have the football team coming out to help pick pink pumpkins and load them up on the wagon and haul them off. So they’ve helped in the past and helping this harvest as well. (Maggie) Yeah. (Jim) So how many FFA programs here in the state or nationwide do you have hooked up this organization? (Maggie) Throughout the state last time I checked I think there were 5 or 6 and throughout the nation I think there were almost 60, I want to say. (Jim) Well good. Maggie don’t go away. We’re gonna go out to the patch and pick some pumpkins and talk some more about how you actually grow it but don’t go away. And you folks at home don’t go away. We’ll be right back after these words.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm, I’m Jim Shroyer. We’re in western Finney County, north of Holcomb and we have Maggie Roth with us and we’re in the pink pumpkin patch, that’s hard to say three times. And we have… we’re joined by here Dad Duane. And Maggie let’s talk a little bit about production practices. (Maggie) Well, we plant either in late May or early June and from there the seeds will usually take four months to fully grow into their pink stage. (Jim) So, what about first week of June last of May, first week of June, what type of… how any seeds do you plant per foot of row? I know corn or soybeans when you’re planting X number of seeds per foot of row, it’s nothing like that, is it? (Maggie) Well in our finger planter, the boxes are each set 30 inches apart. But we end every other box, so the rows are each 60 inches apart and we plant every six feet. (Jim) There’s not very many herbicides labeled for pumpkins, I wouldn’t think Duane, so what do you do there? (Duane) About a month before we plant them we put on Prowl H2O and hopefully Mother Nature will get a rain, to get it to… (Jim) Incorporated? (Duane) Yeah. More uniform than what… cause this is a little flood patch. So, it’s hard to get the chemical incorporated dry soils most of the time. (Jim) And this year you had a little bit of problem with hail damage not too long ago. (Duane) Yeah, we had a good hail storm come through here and it wiped out probably a third of the plants, at least, and you know they came back. We went back in with a foliar feed and an insecticide to help the plant recover. It helped quite a bit, but it was just a little too late also. (Jim) So what kind of bugs… I’m thinking of one in particular, but what kind of bug problems do you have? I know you said you had insecticide. Do you fly that on? (Duane) Squash bugs is our nemesis. He’s our arch enemy. We can have a pumpkin patch and move it four miles away there will be squash bugs all over the place and yeah we have a local… (Jim) Crop duster? (Duane) Crop duster and he’ll donate his time and money and we’ll put on Warrior, we’ll put on some stuff for a fungicide to help the plants stay greener longer and a fungicide helps just as much as the insecticide. (Jim) Right. That’s interesting. What kind of nitrogen rates…fertilizer, I said nitrogen, but what other fertility program do you have? (Duane) We put on a product called ASB 1240D and we put on about, I think a 100 pounds and so 40 percent of that would be 60… to have so much…I think to grow actually good pumpkins out here we need about 100 pounds of…we kind of overdo it but just, Mother Nature is pretty unforgiving. (Jim) Uh huh. (Duane) And we like… it likes the phosphate. We really need to get the phos on, so we put on about, you know the same amount on as for nitrogen. We like to get about 100 pounds of phosphate on it. (Jim) Oh really? So, we’re seeing a few yellow ones here, look like they’re not ripe as opposed to pink what they’re supposed to be this time of year. What happened there? (Maggie) Well, usually when they don’t turn pink it’s because they didn’t get enough heat and this summer was a lot cooler than last summer was. And we just had a few really, really cold weeks. And that really did some damage. (Jim) So, what kind of yields do you normally get? Basically, I’m not thinking about bushels here, but how many thousand pumpkins do you get per acre, usually? What’s a range, a good yield? (Maggie) Well, last year we had about a little over 2 1/2 acres and I think we had 8,000-9,000 pumpkins. (Jim) Wow. That’s a lot of pumpkins. (Maggie) Yeah. (Jim) That’s the reason for that $28,000 to breast cancer. OK. Don’t go away folks and you folks, don’t go away either. We have to hear from our sponsor. So, we’ll be right back.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. It’s Halloween and we’re waiting for the Great Pumpkin. Not really, but we’re in a pink pumpkin patch and Maggie and Duane Roth. Where do you market these pink pumpkins? (Maggie) Well, we market them at usually one football game a year. And my school’s Think Pink night. (Jim) Breast cancer… (Maggie) Yes. (Jim) …effort, fundraiser. (Maggie) Yeah. And we usually market them somewhere in Garden City. (Jim) OK. That’s a lot of pumpkins to be moving… (Maggie) Yeah. (Jim) …this time of year. Didn’t I hear you say your goal is to have a pink pumpkin on everybody’s front porch? (Maggie) Yeah. (Jim) Is that in the state or nationwide? (Maggie) Everywhere. (Jim) That’s a really good cause. Duane, you’ve gotta be proud of Maggie. (Duane) Yep. Very proud. (Jim) So, tell us a little bit about her and her project. (Duane) I want to start it off, it just was a single pumpkin patch and then a few other FFA chapters caught on to it and it went across the nation. And you know, it’s like everything else, some did really well and there’s always a learning curve when you’re growing a squash plant. But I think they’re not doing it just to grow pumpkins they did it because somebody they know or somebody in their family has been affected by breast cancer. (Jim) Well it’s about one in eight, so that’s over 12 percent of women will face breast cancer sometime in their life. (Duane) Yep. There’s an FFA chapter in the United States…I forget where it was, but he raised them and his Mom actually died of breast cancer and they sold at local football games. So, it hits close to home for a lot of kids that are in FFA or for just in a family. (Jim) But while this is pink pumpkins… a pink pumpkin patch, it’s kind of new. But you’ve been growing pumpkins for, actually orange pumpkins, for quite a while. (Duane) About 26 years. (Jim) Twenty-six years. And what have you done with those over the years? (Duane) First it started as our local school would come out. Pre-school through 4th-5th grade would come out, all the classes and we got some local churches who got the library they do a fund raiser and the zoo, they have a fund raiser to raise money for the animals and keep upkeep and everything. So, we donate the pumpkins to them. (Jim) So, it sounds like to me the Roth family has been doing donations, these kind of efforts for a long time and you’ve just kind of carried on in that tradition haven’t you? (Maggie) Yeah. (Jim) Well, that’s really good. That is a wonderful program that you’re doing and so don’t go away. We’ll be right back and you folks at home, you don’t go away either. We’ll be right back.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. We’re in western Finney County. We have Duane Roth and his daughter, Maggie. Maggie is the pink pumpkin queen for the state. And guys, you know, pink pumpkins how in the world did we come up with pink pumpkins? How are they different from orange pumpkins? (Maggie) We came up with them by…actually the breeder who started breeding them, he just found it in a field of regular ones and he bred them from there and took the seeds from that one. (Jim) This has been within the last ten years. (Maggie) Yeah. (Jim) So, they look more gourd shape than normal orange pumpkins. I am thinking you know, those big orange pumpkins. These seem to be more gourd or squash type, but boy you lift one of these puppies up and it’s heavy. (Maggie) Yeah. (Jim) So, what’s the deal on the heaviness and the size and density of it? (Maggie) Well, it’s a whole lot denser than your regular orange pumpkins. I would say it’s at least three times as heavy as… like this one if you find an orange pumpkin its size, this one is going to be three times as heavy in pounds. (Jim) OK. So, and that’s made up mainly by the wall here, the whatever you call the outside of a pumpkin. So, let’s cut it open and see how that works. And just kind of see that’s it’s kind of hard to cut there. Maggie you were telling me a little bit ago about the sweetness of these pumpkin versus a regular pumpkin. I do like pumpkin pie, so if you want to make one for me, I’d appreciate it. But… I like it with whipped cream. So, that is kind of tough there. And the wall is so much thicker. But inside of a pink pumpkin it’s not pink, it’s just a like a normal orange pumpkin. (Maggie) Yeah. (Jim) Yeah, look at that. There is seed there as well. But you have a nice wall here, and then this is the meat here. You really can’t make jack-o-lanterns out of these can you? (Maggie) No. We’ve tried. (Jim) You’d have to have a real long knife and so these are interesting development. See the seed. Normal pumpkin seed you dry those. Now of course here’s a green pumpkin seed, so let’s talk about what you plant. We talked about planting procedures a while ago. And those aren’t anything like what we’re seeing here. So, tell us a little bit about, obviously those are treated with an insecticide/fungicide. And you’ll drop two or three every six feet. (Maggie) Uh huh. (Jim) So, the pink pumpkin foundation sends you how many seeds? (Maggie) For FFA and 4H clubs, they’ll send up to 5,000 seeds for free. And so that’s how many we got. These plants are on three acres. (Jim) So, basically 5,000 will plant three acres. So, that’s really interesting. Well, stay with us we’ve got one more segment to do. And folks you stay with us as well. We’ll be right back after these words.

(Jim) Welcome back folks to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer. We’re in Maggie Roth’s pumpkin patch and tell us a little bit more about that connection between the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation and breast cancer. (Maggie) Well, the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation’s President is actually a breast cancer survivor. And her husband is the seed breeder who first found the pink pumpkin patch seed. So, they just kind of put two and two together and established the foundation themselves. And so they have different growers, whether it’s a commercial grower, 4H club, or FFA chapter. And after all these different growers are done for the season they send their money back to the Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation and the foundation will accumulate all the money and pool it together and then send it… and then award a grant to a breast cancer research organization of their choice. But they try to get an organization that has the highest amount of dollar going to actual research instead of just promoting awareness. (Jim) Right. So, let me ask you how much were you able to donate to the Pink Pumpkin Foundation this past year? (Maggie) Well, last year I ended up donating over $28,000. (Jim) Twenty-eight thousand dollars. Holy moly! That’s a lot of pumpkins. And this year you have three acres of pumpkins and you’re hoping to shoot for that again this year. (Maggie) Yeah. We sure hope. (Jim) OK. So, if someone is interested in FFA or a 4H organization how do you get in contact? How do they get in contact? (Maggie) Well, most people go through the foundation. (Jim) So they would Google Pink Pumpkin Patch Foundation? (Maggie) Uh huh. (Jim) OK. (Maggie) And you can see it on Facebook or Twitter or any social media, I believe. (Jim) Well Maggie, I tell you what, you are a remarkable person and for a junior in high school, raise $28,000 bucks and more this year, I am pleased that you joined us and talked a little bit about your project for FFA and thank you for having us. And you folks at home, glad you joined us. And next Friday, be with us cause we’re gonna be back with That’s My Farm. Thank you.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission, the Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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