Pricey Pumpkins.

first_imgIt’s the season for pumpkins, but short crops could mean higherprices at the market, say University of Georgia scientists.”Our Georgia crop looks good if they got adequate rainor were irrigated,” said Terry Kelley, an Extension Servicehorticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and EnvironmentalSciences.Diseases and Viruses in Crop”Wealways battle disease, and we had worse problems than normal thisyear with viruses,” he said.Because of this year’s drought, nonirrigated pumpkins weresmaller and fewer.The weather across the country affects us more than our own,Kelley said, because Georgia markets import most of their pumpkins.Georgia farmers grow 400 to 500 acres of pumpkins annually.Problems in Tennessee and North Carolina,Too”Tennessee’s crop is very low,” Kelley said. “NorthCarolina’s crop was affected by the drought early on and thenby the hurricane. So local consumers are likely to see higherprices than normal this year.”Early wholesale prices this fall are almost double their normalrange. At Rick’s Farmers Market in Marietta, prices varied from99 cents for small ornamental pumpkins to $17 for large pumpkins.”We either got no rain or, when it rained, it flooded,”said Jeff Champion, a salesman at Rick’s. “So there are fewerpumpkins in the field, and the ones we get are smaller and theprices higher.”Prices May Drop Later”It’s still early,” Kelley said. “So as supplyincreases, the prices may go down. But I’m sure that price reflectsthe anticipated short crop.If the wholesale price holds, the retail price can be expectedto remain higher, too.”It really depends on where the supplies are coming from,”Kelley said. “If markets have their own crop, it could becheaper.”Pumpkin Pickin’ = Family FunMany Georgians see pumpkin buying as a chance for a familyouting. The entertainment and family time may still be worth thehigher price. Some pumpkin farms offer petting zoos, hay ridesand other family fun.For a good list of fresh-market pumpkin dealers, check theGeorgia Farm Bureau web site at www.gfb.org. Click on “FarmMkts.” The site offers details of what each market offersand a map with directions to the farm markets in your area.(Photos by Faith Peppers)last_img read more