Extreme weather causing pumpkin shortage for local pumpkin patches

Weather & Traffic In-Depth

BASTROP (KXAN) –Every autumn, Barton Hill Farm in Bastrop transforms their 118-acre farm into a fall festival for thousands to enjoy. From apple cannons to hayrides they have it all. They even turn their corn stalks into a 5-acre corn maze.

This year their maze is SpaceX themed, in honor of Tesla moving its headquarters nearby. To escape the maze, guests must answer trivia about SpaceX and its founder Elon Musk.

Barton Hill Farm – Craig Swanson

They also, of course, have a pumpkin patch. Meteorologist Sean Kelly chatted with Craig Swanson. Craig and his wife are co-owners of the farm. It turns out that growing pumpkins in Central Texas is a very tough task due to the heat.

As a result, he does not grow the pumpkins on the farm that he sells. He instead buys them in bulk from a farm all the way up in Michigan.

In years past, he would purchase pumpkins from the Panhandle of Texas where the climate is a little better suited to grow pumpkins in comparison to ours here in Central Texas.

The reason why he made the switch though from the Panhandle to the Midwest is for one key reason: Quality.

“We really like to try and get our pumpkins as fresh as possible,” Craig says.

In the Panhandle, they have to harvest the pumpkins in September and have them sit in climate-controlled storage before eventually getting to a local pumpkin patch. This in return makes them a little older in age and results in a shorter shelf or patio life for the consumer. But pumpkins grown in the Midwest, because of the significantly cooler temperatures at night, can harvest their pumpkins significantly later, increasing the freshness of the pumpkins he receives for his pumpkin patch.

With that said, Craig mentioned that the yield of the pumpkins this year from Michigan wasn’t the best.

“They had a warmer summer in the northern part of the United States. There are just not as many pumpkins and so the yield has been decreased by that… in the Midwest, in particular, they had significant rainstorms in October and that kept the farmers from being able to get into the fields to cut the pumpkins.”

He noticed this year’s batch also was delivered a bit muddy as a result of all that rain.

For future pumpkin pickers, there is a way to tell how fresh the pumpkin is. A recently harvested pumpkin will have a greener stem to it. So search for that when looking at your local pumpkin patch for any last-minute purchases. Craig mentions that the pumpkins at his farm arrive all the way from Michigan within one week of being harvested.

He said he was lucky to not deal with the climate impacts directly on his wallet just yet. Many local farmers set contracts in place with suppliers up to a year in advance for whatever crop they are purchasing. This stabilizes the price at a set rate regardless of the outcome of the yield of the crop.

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