With fewer than three weeks until Halloween, area pumpkin farmers are nervous.
The wet and cool summer months have prompted growers to wonder whether they have enough pumpkins to last until the end of the month.
Schaake’s Pumpkin Patch east of Lawrence was hopping on Monday with groups of school children and visitors. They have plenty of pumpkins to choose from — for now.
But the crop is about a third its normal size.
“The vines were so heavy, and they never really dried out,” said Janet Schaake, whose family has opened up its pumpkin patch to the public for 34 years.
She said this year was the third time her family wondered whether it would have enough pumpkins to make it until Halloween. From the Midwest to New England, pumpkin farmers have reported a tough year. Lawrence has had about 6.5 inches more rainfall than normal, which has been good for the corn and soybean harvests, but not for the pumpkins and melons.
“They are kind of a dry-weather crop anyway, and we just had too much moisture this year,” Schaake said.
In Douglas County, farmers are hopeful the weather might be more favorable in the next three weeks for pumpkins to ripen and boost the supply.
At Mike Garrett Farms north of Lawrence, the crop has turned out OK. Mike Garrett said that he hasn’t had many problems with rotting pumpkins and that he ended up with around 84,000 pounds or 5,300 pumpkins. In a good year, Garrett said he picked 175,000 pounds.
He sells them on his roadside stand on U.S. Highway 24-40, and he said somehow his pumpkins survived despite the wet ground.
“I just think it’s pure luck,” Garrett said.