Jessica Dailey

Northeast Coast Faces Pumpkin Shortage Because of Hurricane Irene

by , 10/04/11

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The weather is getting colder and the leaves are changing colors – autumn has officially arrived. It’s around this time that everyone’s favorite fall vegetable, beautiful round orange pumpkins, start popping up at city Greenmarkets, giving the city a more festive fall look. But this year the mini pumpkin patches may not be around for long – local farmers are reporting that Hurricane Irene, which devastated farms Upstate and on Long Island, caused a major pumpkin shortage throughout the whole Northeast. The storm caused massive flooding that resulted in many pumpkin crops being completely washed away.

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The Associated Press talked to Darcy Pray, owner of Pray’s Family Farms in Keeseville, in upstate New York, who watched his entire crop of 20,000 pumpkins get washed into Lake Champlain during Irene. “I’ve tried buying from people down in the Pennsylvania area, I’ve tried locally here and I’ve tried reaching across the border to some farmers over in the Quebec area. There’s just none around,” said Pray.

Wholesale prices for a bin of about 32 to 45 pumpkins have doubled in Upstate New York, now selling for $150 to $200. Farmers are still unsure what the shortage will do to prices at Greenmarkets and grocery stores, but normally, a pumpkin sells for about $15 a supermarket in NYC, an already high price according to this author – I grew up outside of Pittsburgh in rural Western Pennsylvania, where we would get three or four big pumpkins and a dozen gourds for $15 or less!

In fact, some farmers in the NY area have taken to calling farmers located further west, looking to buy pumpkins and ship them here. “There’s been a ton of people calling from New Jersey,” said Larry Goebel, co-owner of Goebel Farms in Evansville, Ind. “We can sell every pumpkin we want to sell.”

So how do you make sure you don’t miss out on pumpkin pie and jack-o-lanterns? In the words of one farmer, “Just get your pumpkins early. […] It’s going to be a difficult season.”

Know of a city Greenmarket with a good pumpkin supply? Let us know in the comments below!

Via ABC Local

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