Irene's Belated Cruel Blow: Pumpkin Shortage

Farmers in the Northeast watched their crops wash away
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2011 2:18 PM CDT
Irene's Belated Cruel Blow: Pumpkin Shortage
Facing a pumpkin shortage in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene, wholesale process in the region have doubled as farmers nurse their surviving pumpkin plants toward a late harvest.   (AP Photo/David Duprey, File)

Hurricane Irene destroyed plenty of things—and one of them could be Halloween. There's a serious pumpkin shortage in the Northeast, the gloomy result of the destruction Irene inflicted on the region's pumpkin patches. The AP talked to one farmer in upstate New York who watched his entire crop of as many as 20,000 pumpkins wash into Lake Champlain. "I've tried buying from people down in the Pennsylvania area" in order to fulfill orders, he says. "I've tried locally here and I've tried reaching across the border to some farmers over in the Quebec area. There's just none around."

Farmers with survivors are doubling wholesale prices, and tourism could take a hit for pick-your-own farms without inventory. It's been a headache of a season for farmers, whose pumpkin-patch problems began before Irene struck: Heavy spring rains forced many farmers to delay planting two to three weeks, and a type of water mold hit many fields in mid-August. Wholesalers need to get pumpkins on their way to stores by mid-September, notes the AP, because after Oct. 31, sales screech to a halt. (More pumpkins stories.)

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