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Plentiful pumpkin harvest benefits La Union Maze

LA UNION, New Mexico -- The La Union Maze lies on the border of Anthony and La Union. There, you'll find family fun activities including their well known corn maze, and acres and acres of farms. The family run farm has run for years, initially growing onions, jalapenos, among other things, but now grow tomatoes, sunflowers, cotton, pumpkins and more.

October is home to one of the most famous holidays of the year - Halloween. Its trademark is the pumpkin. But pumpkin growing isn't easy, Robert Sondgeroth, owner of the La Union Maze and farm told ABC-7.

"It takes a lot of experience to get it right... soil selection, variety selection, there's no book that says this is how to do it," he explained.

Sondgeroth uses a silt loam variety of soil that allows for good drainage which is integral for pumpkin growing.

The extra rain we received this year could have destroyed the crop if Sondgeroth's farm didn't have a good drainage system. Fortunately, his fields are built on a slant, so excess rain or water with naturally flow into the drainage canals.

Ideally, "we want all the water above Elephant Butte to fill it up, but we'd be better off with nothing here actually."

Although pumpkins can survive hot desert heat, they do prefer cooler temperatures. Planted in June through August, the crop here enjoys when temperatures get a little cooler during the monsoon.

"It's real hot in June and they're starting then, but they aren't doing anything. And then in July when you start to get some of the monsoon pressure - more overcast, a little bit cooler weather, a little more humidity - then they start to thrive in that environment," he said.

This year was a good year for Sondgeroth's farm, with thousands of pumpkins both big and small scattered across the fields.

Sondgeroth said how thankful he was for his community helping him keep the farm going through the pandemic. "It's just a family run business," he said, and people around him really stepped up in the most difficult times.

He added that he is always looking to hire on employees who can help out around the farm or with the maze.

For more information on the La Union Maze and farm, visit launionmaze.com.

Katie Frazier

Katie Frazier is an ABC-7 meteorologist and reporter.

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