Heat, drought impacts pumpkin yields

Texas pumpkin yields are well below average due to excessive heat and drought experienced this summer.

This year’s pumpkin yields for Floyd County, the Pumpkin Capital of Texas, are down 20% to 40%, according to Mark Carroll, AgriLife Extension agent for Floyd County.

Carroll noted in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network that Floyd County farmers grow over 100 varieties of pumpkins on about 700 acres.

“This year’s production has been a mixed bag,” said Danny Nut, owner of DL Nut Farms in Floyd County. “Some varieties have produced their usual amount, but others were extremely low in quantity.”

This year’s crop went six weeks without rain after mid-July, which had a detrimental impact on production.

“The quality seems to be good for the ones that did make it,” Carroll said. “Some of the varieties did okay, and some of them that require a little more water didn’t grow to the size that we normally have.”

Irrigation systems could not compete with heat-related evaporation and meet plant moisture demand during this summer’s severe drought conditions.

“DL Farms usually keeps drip irrigation over the pumpkins,” Nut said. “But this year, we decided to keep our crop irrigated with a pivot to try and keep up. It just couldn’t keep up.”

In addition to low yields, pumpkins were damaged during shipping to wholesale markets.

Pumpkins grown in Floyd County are shipped across the nation. Extreme heat caused pumpkins to degrade in trailers before reaching their destination, leading to an increase in loss of pumpkins.

With continued high demand, the low yields and heat-related shipping spoilage, consumers are likely to see higher pumpkin prices compared to last year.

“Consumers should buy pumpkins as soon as they see them,” Carroll said.

Despite low yields this year, Carroll said pumpkin farmers are optimistic for the next growing season.

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