Niagara Gazette

Communities

October 8, 2012

Pumpkin growers have good crop this year

Niagara Gazette — ELMIRA — Pumpkins are plentiful and plump in upstate New York with Halloween less than a month away.

While many crops withered after a late spring frost and a dry summer, farmers say their pumpkins have thrived in the drier weather this year.

"The harvest is exceptional, especially our white pumpkin crop. They tend to like drier weather," Maureen Smith of Smithome Farms in Big Flats said. "Pumpkins in general like drier weather. Otherwise the stems rot. We did hand water our pumpkin field, but a little drier is better than too much rain for pumpkins."

Owners of other farms in the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley say their pumpkins are big and crops bountiful this year as selling season picks up before Halloween on Oct. 31.

The bumper pumpkin crop is especially welcome after tropical storms Irene and Lee destroyed much of the crop last year. New York's 2011 pumpkin crop was worth $23.6 million, compared with $35 million in 2010, according to the federal Department of Agriculture.

"Pretty much everyone got a good pumpkin crop this year," Sharon Soons of Soons Orchards and Farm Market in the Hudson Valley told the Times Herald-Record of Middletown.

Despite the good growing conditions, some farmers still report problems with nuisance deer nibbling at their crop. Some growers plant extra rows just to make up for anticipated deer damage.

"(Deer) eat the small ones, and we don't get anything. That's the worst problem. It keeps getting worse and worse," said Steve Eddy of Eddydale Farms near Ithaca. "A lot of people are feeding them, and this is a haven for them here. I had a field (of pumpkins) that I said the deer could never eat all of it, but they did."

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