Why you might see a sadder, pricier pumpkin patch selection this year


(NEXSTAR) – Summer may be over, but the drought is not. About half the country is experiencing drought conditions, and it’s taking a toll on fall festivities.

Pumpkin farmers, especially on the West Coast, are seeing fewer varieties and smaller yields. That means you may see fewer options — and a higher price tag — at the pumpkin patch.

“Overall, it’s not good,” said Lyra Marble, owner of Mr. Bones Pumpkin Patch in Culver City, California. “Historically, the crops have been very predictable. California grows big abundant fields of pumpkins that are uniformly perfect. It’s always been the best pumpkin-growing environment.”

But not this year, Marble said. Farmers she works with in California planted larger crops than they usually need to and saw smaller returns. On top of the problems caused by drought, one farm was hit by a “never before seen migratory bird” that ate five acres of seedlings, Marble said.

“The growing season only got worse from there,” she said.

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Another farmer in the Sacramento valley told a local news station that most of the farmers in the area had their pumpkin crops devastated by a virus. Another in Half Moon Bay, California, said they’ve only grown half of what they typically would so they could use water wisely.

“This year is the hardest I’ve seen for Californian grown pumpkins,” Marble said.

Because it’s been such a challenging year, Marble said pumpkin patches are probably going to be in short supply of certain types of pumpkins, like the popular Blanco variety (the round, white ones) and smaller, ornamental pumpkins and squash.

The devastating drought in California has also forced her pumpkin patch to source pumpkins from farther away, in Oregon. It’s typically too wet to grow quality pumpkins there, Marble said, but the state also had a year that was much drier than average, so they saw an abundant crop.

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The lower supply — and for pumpkin patches like Mr. Bones, the increased cost of transporting pumpkins from Oregon — will mean higher prices on pumpkins. That’s especially true for specialty pumpkins like colorful varieties, Marble said, because they are in shortest supply this year.

Drought also threatens to put a damper on the winter holiday season. “It’s been devastating for Christmas trees,” said Marbles, whose operation pivots from Mr. Bones to Mr. Greentrees come winter. “We are anxious We are expecting the unexpected and structuring the business to adapt.”


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