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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Despite national pumpkin shortages, Arizona farmers keep Halloween cheap

A Midwest drought has caused a pumpkin shortage nationwide, but Arizonans are not worried. Due to flooded rain during June and July of this year, states where pumpkins are grown, such as Illinois and Missouri, have lacked proper nutrients to produce sugar pumpkins.

Luckily for Arizona, most pumpkins sold here are grown and sold locally, keeping prices the same as previous years.

“This year, we were extremely lucky with our pumpkin patch and had a great crop that has allowed us to have a very successful season,” said Marana Pumpkin Patch and Farm Festival employee Samantha Wilson in an email interview. “Last year and this year, our prices have remained the same at 50 [cents] per pound and we don’t foresee an increase in the costs of our pumpkins at this point.”

Ross Ellet, a meteorologist and weather reporter for 13abc, discovered that the constant rain in states that mass-produce pumpkins washed away nutrient rich dirt, which then caused the pumpkins to harden and has caused the plants to become shallow rooted. Lack of nutrients caused diseases to spread easily and destroyed roughly half the natural crop.

According to the Arizona Daily Star, the average price per pumpkin was $3.95 and due to the crop destruction, the price increased to $4.35 in nearly a week.

Nick Buckelew, owner of Buckelew Farms in Tucson, said in an email interview that his farm wasn’t affected by the drought either because he grows his own pumpkins; however, he faced some other issues this planting season.

“It was a combination of field rats during planting, they ate the pumpkin seed as fast as we could plant it, not sure why that was a problem this year because he had a continuous supply of food for them,” Buckelew said. “In September, they came down with a mosaic virus and then we had an infestation of army worms which are not known to infest pumpkins.”

Buckelew decided to buy replacement pumpkins from out-of-state where the marketplace quickly snuck up on him. He said it was extremely hard to find healthy and large pumpkins at a reasonable price.

Buckelew said he had to be prepared for the unexpected, but he wasn’t.

Halloween in Arizona will be just like previous years with the growth of healthy pumpkins throughout the state, but Thanksgiving is approaching soon and stocks of canned-pumpkin is low at local supermarkets throughout the nation.

In a Bloomberg Business article, Megan Durisin and Linly Lin said Libby’s, the largest U.S. producer of pumpkins produces about 80 percent of the crop a year, but that number has decreased to about 50 percent in 2015.

Roz O’Hearn, a spokeswoman for Nestle USA, said in the Bloomberg Business article that the pumpkins grown in Illinois this year are enough for canning but won’t be suitable for carving jack-o’-lanterns because they’re oval-shaped, pale orange and heavy with a dense, meaty interior. O’Hearn said she believes the canned-pumpkin supply will be enough to cover the Thanksgiving holiday, but not the holidays after.

“We went to the Marana pumpkin patch like 20 minutes from campus. I purchased a pumpkin from the patch that was 50 [cents] per pound and my pumpkin was less than six pounds so I paid less than $3 for it,” said Lily Belishka, a pre-business sophomore. “I’ve never gone to a pumpkin patch before, so for the first time I thought it was really cool and there were a lot of healthy pumpkins to choose from.”

Follow Gabriella Vukelic on Twitter.

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