Warm Octobers may mean bad news for pumpkin patch owners
For most, fall means sweaters, warm cups of coffee, and most importantly, pumpkins, but with this month’s unseasonably warm temperatures, many people are finding it hard to get into the pumpkin carving spirit.
“I almost forget that it’s fall,” said Sam Roundtree, an Athens resident, pumpkin shopping.
When people can’t get in the holiday spirit, those selling the pumpkins really notice.
“Our sales have been down this year,” said Dr. Ginny Dempsey, the Associate Pastor of Milledge Avenue Baptist Church, and head of the church’s annual pumpkin patch.
It’s not just the warm weather that has been affecting the church’s pumpkin sales this year either. It’s also the wet summer weather that has been keeping people away.
“Then all of a sudden it got really hot, the rain came in, so rain obviously always affects our pumpkin sales,” Dempsey said.
People don’t want to shop for pumpkins in the rain.
The hot, rainy weather also affects how long pumpkins will last.
“You’re not going to go buy a pumpkin and leave it on your front porch if it’s going to rot quicker in the 90-degree weather,” said Dempsey.
The church pumpkin patch has had many pumpkins rotting right on the lot itself.
“We have had more little ones rot this year, and I think it’s because of the heat and the rain combined,” said Dempsey.
Farms selling pumpkins to these patches have noticed an increase in rotting pumpkins because of the weather, as well.
Basehore Farm Market estimates that for every 10 pumpkins they’ve harvested, they have to leave about two to three behind because they weren’t up to standard for sales.
This can mean an increase in the price of pumpkins for customers.
Dempsey did say that the patch’s sales were up the first week of October, which is different from most other years, most likely because the first week had much cooler temperatures.
“So there’s still hope,” Dempsey said.
The warm weather can lead to pumpkin diseases, as well, an issue the University of Georgia’s College of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences has been researching in south Georgia, since students, researchers and farmers grow pumpkins at UGA itself.
Pumpkins need cool air to grow and get big, so this warm weather can stop their growth, keeping the farmers from being able to sell as many pumpkins as those in north Georgia are usually able to do because of the cooler weather.
While the warmer weather may affect the sales themselves, Dempsey said that the pumpkin patch has actually been the second most popular location for picture taking on Instagram in Athens, Georgia.
“We’re only behind North Campus right now,” said Dempsey.
This continuous summer weather may keep people from wanting to buy pumpkins, but it hasn’t stifled their spirit for Instagram picture taking, yet.