Pumpkin Patches Keep Prices Low Despite Shortage

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Picking out your pumpkin may be a little harder this year.

Tom Weekley has been selling pumpkins for years, but just like many other pumpkin farmers across Ohio, this season has been a rough one.

"We planted the dates this year, then we set in with three weeks of solid rain and we had one field that was pretty much a failure or some types and very poor pollination," said Weekley.

He says he's down about six truck loads more than usual.

And Weekley is not alone.

He says a fellow pumpkin farmer in Washington County only had a 5% return on his 15 acre farm.

It's all due to what pumpkin farmers call rain induced pumpkin diseases like powdery mildew and downy mildew, which kill the plants.

Kevin Lewis has been the owner of Libby's Pumpkin Patch in Albany for three years now.

Unlike the majority of pumpkin farmers, Lewis had a great season this year. He says his success is all thanks to good timing. "

Pumpkins, since they ripened a little bit earlier this year, they were at a ripe enough size to be able to withstand the mildews," said Lewis.

Lewis tried out several different methods to help his pumpkins this year. One method was an irrigation system to help water plants. Another was plastic mulch that he thinks actually helped keep the excess rain water away from the pumpkin plants.

The shortage has bumped up wholesale pumpkin prices from 15 cents per pound to 30 cents per pound, but local farmers say they don't plan to dramatically raise prices or have a smaller supply.

"You trade or you buy some just to keep your customers happy. You don't make any money doing that, but that's the idea. We've been doing this since 1983, we have repeat people that come and I'm gonna have something for them," said Weekley.

But many locals will have access to pumpkins this year. In addition to contacting local pumpkin vendors, Athens County is hosting the first every Athens Pumpkin Festival this October.