Growing pumpkins not easy this year

WASHINGTON, W.Va. -An extraordinarily wet summer has presented some problems for the state’s pumpkins growers this season.

While it’s been a challenge, most farmers do not expect a shortage of pumpkins as buyers begin shopping for their fall and Halloween decorations.

Andrew Beavers with the National Weather Service in Charleston said the Mid-Ohio Valley has endured 19.76 inches of rain this summer in June, July and August. That’s almost 7 inches above the average of 12.5 inches.

Participants at the annual Pumpkin Festival in Milton told the Associated Press the year was brutal for pumpkins. Kim Jackson of Kim’s Greenhouse in Milton said the year was a disaster. Boyd Meadows of Meadows Produce in Milton said there may be local shortage because of the wet weather, but supply should still be plentiful to keep pace with demand.

Rob Butcher with the Butcher Farm in Washington, W.Va., said it has been a tough year.

“Mother Nature made it a challenge this season, ” he said. “But it’s nothing to be alarmed about.”

Butcher said they still have pumpkins in the field they are trying to harvest, but he said pumpkins will be available. Underneath a covered port, hundreds of pumpkins sat in boxes and on shelves.

As Butcher spoke a worker hauled cart after cart of mums to a display stand. He said it takes workers about two weeks to put all the displays and decorations together as the farm prepares to open to the public.

“It depends on the weather,” he said. “There’s lots of work to do.”

Butcher said the rain can hinder growth and production, but deer are a larger concern.

“Deer love pumpkins,” he said.

In the mid-1990s deer decimated the Butcher Farm’s crop, destroying thousands of dollars worth of pumpkins.

“That was a bad year,” he said.

Workers are continuing to build the farm’s displays and Butcher is planning to get the farm open to the public next week. The farm’s Facebook page, Butcher Farm, provides updates on progress.

The Butcher Farm’s Family Fun Day is set for Oct. 12.