Local News

Heat Carving Into Pumpkin Profits

Posted September 26, 2007 11:13 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina farmers are worried the heat will hit their pumpkin patches hard this year. There are already signs of a smaller fall crop.

Pumpkin farmer Elsie Bynum lives just outside of Gardner. She does not have an irrigation system, so her pumpkins grew from the dew that settled on them overnight.

"They [pumpkins] just don't require as much water as other crops, but everything has to have some water,” Bynum said.

Because of the lack of rain, Bynum's had to harvest her pumpkins three weeks early. Many of the pumpkins were deformed and smaller than usual, and she was unable to sell them.

"There's a right many good ones over there, but more bad than good,” Bynum said.

Despite the state drought, there are pumpkins to be bought this fall.

"I'm seeing quite a bit come in right now. I don't know how long that's gonna last,” Ronnie Best, State Farmer's Market manager, said.

Best said farmers have struggled with a variety of challenges this year, from a lack of water to extreme heat that interferes with pollination.

"Once it gets above about 90 degrees, bees are like us, they don't want to fly,” Best said.

Because of high temperatures, some pumpkins are not maturing and are still green. Farmers fear the pumpkins will not turn orange in time for the Halloween push.

"I'm hearing they [pumpkins] are sparse. They are scattered. I'm hearing they are still sitting in the fields, green. They haven't turned orange yet,” Best said. "Pumpkins after Oct. 31 aren't worth a lot."