Fall may bring fewer, pricier pumpkins - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Fall may bring fewer, pricier pumpkins

Whether it's for dessert or carving a jack-o-lantern, pumpkins are a fall staple for many people.  In fact, pumpkin sales generate an estimate $113 million nationwide.  But this year, finding right one could prove challenging.

Kristen Otto and her daughter Harlow looked for the perfect pumpkin at Heartland Farms in Waterloo Sunday.

While there's still a good selection--for many pumpkin patches, it's going to be a tough year to make some green from the orange gourds.  That's because the drought has left many pumpkin farmers high and dry.

"Pumpkins you plant them early but heat and dry affects them like any other annual," said  Dave Meyers with Heartland Farms.

Meyers watches weather patterns and was worried enough about the possibility of a dry summer, he decided to irrigate about 80 percent of his pumpkins.  The difference between those patches and ones without regular watering is night and day.

"A few hundred feet away in another field, the same variety was planted a little earlier in the year, and it's about zip.  In this field, it actually did quite well.  We avoided the heat stress when they were in pollination and fruit set, and as you can see there's some nice, big fat boys," said Meyers.

But with less supply overall, the fall staple is going to cost you more this year.

"It depends on the crop and the area.  I just went up a stitch.  Fuel and everything else I pay for is up some, but I didn't go crazy.  But I've noticed some of the retailers around town, some of their prices basically doubled," Meyers said.

The trend might continue too, since Meyers thinks the dry spell will last a while.  But he's still holding out hope for a more premium pumpkin crop next year.

Heartland Farms says because it's an off year, fewer pumpkins can be donated to area churches, schools, and non-profits like the Northeast Iowa Food Bank.

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