(Oct. 8, 2:30 p.m.) The Super Freak series of pumpkins and gourds is enjoying its first Halloween spotlight this season.

Siegers Seed Co., Holland, Mich., released the two warty varieties of pumpkin seed, Knuckle Head and Goose Bumps, and one variety of gourd seed, Gremlins, in January. During their debut season, the varieties have made their way into markets from coast to coast.

Pumpkin volumes are down overall, though, and these varieties suffered with their conventional neighbors.

“The pumpkin crop in the midwest is pretty thin and sparse,” said Jason Williamson, professional seed consultant for Siegers Seed Co. “A lot of guys got planted, then there was lots of spring rain left, then it got hot and dry and pollination was really bad.”

The midwest was down about 20% to begin with, Williamson said, mostly because of growers switching to crops such as field corn. The weather took production down another third, he said.

Williamson said one of the highlights of Super Freak’s first season is that the unique products are picking up where some other varieties didn’t yield as well.

“Instead of getting $4 for a pumpkin, if you can get $7 for Super Freak, it doesn’t sting as much that your crop is down,” Williamson said.

Williamson said growers are getting $5-7 wholesale for Super Freak pumpkins.

“I think farm markets are constantly looking for a way to set themselves apart from a chain store,” Williamson said.

The pumpkin and gourd varieties are in some chain stores, though.

“We want to target the shipper, but it needs its own (Universal Product Code),” Williamson said. “That way it can be sold at a different price than all the rest of the pumpkins at the store. We’re working on that.”

The Knuckle Head pumpkin averages about 15 pounds and stands upright. It is more oval-shaped than conventional howden-type pumpkins.

Goose Bumps is smaller, maxing out at 10-12 pounds. It is rounder than its larger relative.

The Gremlins are larger-than-normal gourds. They grow in different shapes, including stars, wings and mushrooms.

Williamson said the next wave of products in this series is expected to be introduced for the 2010 fall season. The new pumpkins will be multi-colored and uniquely shaped.

“They’re orange and black and white,” Williamson said. “They’re not completely done yet, but that’s what this series can go to.”

In the meantime, the goal for next season is to quadruple sales of the seed variety. Williamson said he thinks that’s possible because he is already getting orders from growers who want to ensure they will have the series by next September. Williamson said he expects the Gremlins gourds to grow faster than the pumpkin varieties.

“Acceptance of this product has exceeded our expectations,” he said.

Last year, 1,000 seeds of either Knuckle Heads or Goose Bumps were $46. Williamson said that price is on par with other varieties of the same size.

Siegers has a Web site dedicated to the Super Freak series at www.superfreakpumpkin.com. The site includes a list of growers who bought the seeds for this season as well as growing tips, photos, carving templates and contact information.

Freaky, warted gourds make Halloween debut
Siegers Seed Co., Holland, Mich., released two warty varieties of pumpkin seed, Knuckle Head and Goose Bumps, and one variety of gourd seed, Gremlins, in January. Jason Williamson, professional seed consultant for Siegers, says growers are getting $5-7 wholesale for Super Freak pumpkins.

Courtesy Siegers Seed Co.