Pumpkins expected to be fine this fall - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Pumpkins expected to be fine this fall

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The northeast is facing a pumpkin shortage thanks to Hurricane Irene, but here in south Georgia, fields are turning orange just in time for Halloween.

Farmers here struggled to get the crop started because of drought conditions, but a little rain as the crop grew and irrigation should make a near perfect crop. While rain showers kept most indoors at Mark's Melon Patch, picking day wouldn't be called off by a little rain.  

In fact, showers in the last three days should help finish off the crop, just about perfectly. "If it dries out after this, it will be great to finish out the pumpkin crop," said Mark Daniel, Mark's Melon Patch Owner.

Pumpkins are being brought in from the field to meet demand which will grow over the next three weekends.  Getting the pumpkins to the picking point was the tough job.

"It was a real struggle to get it started, with the drought conditions we had early on, then we had a little period of rain that helped out tremendously," said Daniels.

To the untrained eye, a green pumpkins may not look quite ready. But at Mark's they grow as many as 25 varieties, in varying colors over 15 acres of pumpkin fields, many just waiting for tiny hands to carve them up.

"This year I'm probably going to make an evil face," said Jessica Jones, who is searching for pumpkins.

In the northeast wholesale prices will climb with ruined crops, but here in south Georgia, Mark personally priced each pumpkin himself, with the economy in mind. "If anything I probably lowered them just a hair with the economy and money's tight and I probably dropped them just a little bit."

 Even though the crop cost plenty. "It was just a lot of extra money involved in crop production in general across the board no matter what you were growing this year," Daniels said.

Pumpkins were no exception, but with a good crop in the fields Mark Daniels expects both the customer and farmer will have a Happy Halloween.    

Daniels says the secret to getting bigger pumpkins to have a good shape is turning them in the field as they grow. Larger pumpkins have softer skin and can flatten on one side.   Mark's Melon Patch will host hay rides and other Halloween activities the next three weekends.