Pumpkin crop hurt, helped by Summer rains - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Pumpkin crop hurt, helped by Summer rains

This pumpkin makes Mark especially proud. It weighed in at 200 pounds. This pumpkin makes Mark especially proud. It weighed in at 200 pounds.

October 22, 2003

Sasser - Scary faced pumpkins will soon lure trick-or-treaters to front doors across South Georgia. But, pumpkin farmers in the southeast faced some tricks of their own from mother nature that have both hurt and helped this year's crop. The heavy rains this summer are effecting the pumpkins this fall.

Mark Daniel, the owner of Mark's Melon Patch in Sasser, says his crop was strong this year, but it took some hard work to stop the effects of the rain. Rows and rows of pumpkins fill Daniel's fields. "I have a great crop this year, I'm proud of it."

Daniel planted his crop at the end of June, just about the time rain started falling in South Georgia. And when it rains day after day, mildew can ruin an entire crop. "Vines grow so thick and lush that the sun has a hard time penetrating the canopy. It stay moist under the vines all the time making for a perfect environment to disease," said Daniel.

So, farmer must force fungicides under the vegetation to stop the devastating mildew, and its hard to get into the field when it rains almost every day. But, Daniel says the rain also helped his pumpkin crop.

"The rain has keep the spread of the devastating Mosaic Virus at bay this season," said Daniel. Mosaic Virus is spread by aphids. This year the rain spurred vegetation growth around the farm giving the pesky aphids a delicious alternative to a pumpkin feast.

After weighing the pros and cons of the rain, Daniel says the rain was a treat not a trick this growing season. Daniel has already harvested about 6,000 pumpkins.

Mark's Melon Patch is open daily. You can pick your own pumpkin or chose from hundreds already plucked from the fields. There are even albino pumpkins.

Posted 4:00PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com