CARS HOMES JOBS

Heavy rains in June put crimp in pumpkin crops

Monday, September 16, 2013
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Jim Hoffman, owner of the Sand Flats Orchard in Fonda, cut off one of the traditional pumpkins on Wednesday morning.
Photographer: Marc Schultz
Jim Hoffman, owner of the Sand Flats Orchard in Fonda, cut off one of the traditional pumpkins on Wednesday morning.

— Summer’s rainy start has put a damper on this year’s pumpkin crop.

At least one area grower is doubtful about harvesting any at all, while others are reporting lighter-than-normal yields.

More than 81⁄2 inches of rain fell at the Albany International Airport during June — about double the typical amount — making it the third wettest June on record, according to meteorologist Joe Villani.

Ft. Plain: half lost

Even more rain fell at Pavlus Orchards in Fort Plain, where farmer Ed Pavlus measured 10 inches that same month.

“My pumpkin crop is terrible,” he said. “Half of it got washed out this spring.”

Although his farm was spared July’s flooding, the June rain did so much damage that he’s shopping around for places to buy pumpkins, to ensure his farm stand will stay stocked all fall.

There might not be a single jack-o’-lantern carved from the fruits of the five-acre patch at Lindsey’s Idyllwood Orchard in Rexford this season. June’s rain delayed planting there and, although there are pumpkins on the vines, they’re all still green, according to Emily Lindsey-Sowalsky, whose father runs the farm.

“We’re not sure if we’re going to have them for sale or not,” she said.

Spa City: hope for crop

The pumpkin plants were in the ground at Hanehan’s Pumpkins in Saratoga Springs before June’s downpours, but the rain still put the brakes on vine growth.

“It made it slow all summer,” said owner Megan Borlang.

The farm grows about seven types of carving pumpkins and at least 15 specialty varieties, including red, white and pink pumpkins, and orange ones that sport blue-green splotches.

Borlang hasn’t ventured too far out in the fields yet, to avoid prematurely trampling the vines, but the cursory walk-through she took was encouraging.

“The produce that we have, it looks very good. Will we have as much? Probably not,” she said.

FONDA: slight drop-off

The haul will be just slightly less than normal at Sand Flats Orchard in Fonda, predicted owner and operator Jim Hoffman, who has been growing pumpkins for about 15 years.

“We have a really nice pick-your-own crop this year,” he said, noting that some pumpkins in his fields weigh as much as 75 pounds.

He sold his first one last Monday but the traditional symbol of autumn won’t be in high demand until the last week of September, he said.

Although June was a pumpkin grower’s nightmare, the stretch of warm, dry weather that followed helped much of the crop to rebound, said Jeff Williams, manager of government relations for the New York Farm Bureau, who predicted a pumpkin yield that will rival last year’s bumper crop.

 
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