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Weather challenges U.S. pumpkin growers

Weather challenges U.S. pumpkin growers

Some producers were forced to replant their crop

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer
Farms.com

The unfavorable weather conditions that tested corn, soybeans and wheat producers also challenged U.S. pumpkin growers.

Heavy rains and varying levels of heat meant some farmers had to make tough decisions throughout the growing season.

“We planted our first batch of pumpkins around June 20,” Paul Staley said to Farms.com. He is co-owner of PumpkinWorks, a family fun farm in Paris, Ill., which includes a 15-acre pumpkin patch. “After that, we got about four inches of rain before the weather quickly turned hot and dry. The pumpkins didn’t like that too much.

“We replanted on July 10, which is terribly late for pumpkins, but they’ve done really well. There’s plenty of pumpkins out in the field.”

Staley credits an aggressive fungicide program for his crop’s success.

“We’ve got a rigid program, so nothing really shows up,” he said. “We sell our pumpkins directly to the consumer, so we have to be sure we produce as many sellable pumpkins as we can.”

Other producers echoed Staley’s assessment of the weather’s effects on their crops.

“We received about 14 inches above normal rainfall,” said Ralph Jutte, co-owner of Pigeon Roost Farm in Hebron, Ohio. His farm includes about 12 acres of pumpkins and other vegetables. “Then we had some really hot temperatures, which caused some diseases in the soil. Overall it was a good year, but the yield was a little smaller than what it could have been.”

The changes in weather contributed to one specific disease in the crop.

Phytophthora, which can also affect soybeans, was present in some of Jutte’s pumpkins.

The disease “causes the pumpkins to deteriorate,” he said. “You can’t really treat the outside of the pumpkins. The disease is inside the vines and goes into the pumpkin itself.”

mypurgatoryyears/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

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