Archive for Thursday, September 30, 1999

PILE OF PUMPKINS PRICIER

September 30, 1999

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The cost of a store-bought jack-o'-lantern is going up, and you can blame the weather.

Pumpkins are selling in stores this Halloween season for more than twice as much as in recent years, thanks to a tightening market brought on by drought and other weather problems this summer, a Kansas State University researcher said.

Chuck Marr, a vegetable specialist for K-State Research and Extension, said grocery stores were charging as much as 29 cents a pound for pumpkins, up from the typical 12 cents or 13 cents a pound.

"They're a little more scarce than normal," he said.

About 3,000 acres are planted for pumpkins in Kansas, most of them in 17 counties -- including Douglas -- in the eastern part of the state, Marr said. On a good year, one acre can produce 20,000 pounds of pumpkins, which typically sell wholesale for 7 or 8 cents a pound.

Revenues per acre: $1,400 to $1,600, compared with costs of about $1,000 an acre. Revenues for pick-your-own operations typically are higher, but so are the costs.

But don't think pumpkin crops are easy money, Marr said.

"The bottom line is you've got to sell them," he said. "There is no (formal) market for pumpkins. You can't take 'em down to the local elevator to sell 'em. And, if you can't sell them, then you aren't making any money."

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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