Some pumpkin farmers in western Pennsylvania have seen lower than normal crop yields this year. The culprit? Heavy summer rains that kept important pollinators away and spread fungal disease.
Pittsburgh has received more than 42 inches of precipitation so far in 2019, which is 12 inches more than normal for this time of year.
Adam Voll, farm manager of Soergel Orchards in Wexford, said they’ve had a particular problem with phytophthora blight, a fungal disease that can spread during wet summers.
“There are certain fields that we probably lost at least 25 percent out of, but other fields did a lot better,” Voll said. “Some of the stuff didn’t get quite pollinated the way [we’d] like.”
Rain was a problem for the pumpkin crop on Janoski’s Farm in Clinton, too, according to farm owner Mike Janoski. The farm will not sell any wholesale pumpkins this year.
“Ohio, Michigan, New Jersey, everybody had a very light crop,” Janoski said. “Some people have no crop.”
Jeremy Simmons, manager of Simmons Farm in McMurray, said they got lucky: their crop was mostly healthy, and they’ll meet demand. But he said he knows this has been a tough season for others.
“If we would have been short, the person that we do get [extra pumpkins] from, he mentioned that his price was going up significantly,” Simmons said. “Because a lot of farmers in Michigan would be buying off him.”
Pumpkin farmers had a tough time with the crop in 2018 as well. However, previous reporting from WESA found those pumpkins were impacted more by heavy rain in the fall that brought on rot.