Pumpkin patches hurt by summer rainfall - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Pumpkin patches hurt by summer rainfall

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NEWLAND, NC (WBTV) -

Farmer Larry Smith walked through what looked like a field of high weeds on Wednesday near Newland but this was not a weed patch, it was his pumpkin patch.

"We didn't get much of a crop this year," he said. 

The problem this summer was all the rain that fell.

The area of Avery County where his field is had rainfall totals of more than two feet above average.

"It just started raining, and raining and raining."  

The fields never flooded but remained muddy most of the growing season. That caused pumpkins to rot and some disease to come in as well.

Normally, pumpkin vines are able to edge out weeds in the fields but this year many pumpkin plants rotted and weeds took over.  

"We lost 90 percent of the crop compared to last year." 

Agriculture officials say that was a common problem for field crops this year.

Above average rainfall was too much of a good thing, they said. It means farmers with roadside stands like Larry have had to buy pumpkins from elsewhere to keep their shelves full.

Many grocery chains looked to places out of state to find pumpkins to sell. So far, because many other pumpkin growing states did not have the weather issues North Carolina did, there is no shortage of pumpkins just yet.

Locally grown pumpkins, though, are selling fast and growers advise people who want one for Halloween this year to buy early.

As for prices, Larry said he will keep them as they were last year.

"We'll take the hit this time," he said. "Hopefully the weather will cooperate next year."

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