Pumpkin farmers pummeled by drought say crop will survive, demand is through the roof

Local News

FLOYDADA, TX — With a drought and a sudden cold front in early September, pumpkin farmers in Floydada, Texas, or “pumpkin capital USA,” said that Mother Nature has made it a hard agricultural season. But while their pumpkin crop is down, they said the demand for pumpkins is skyrocketing — and it may be thanks to an unexpected side effect of the pandemic.

“2020 has been an odd year, and it’s been an odd year in agriculture. We haven’t had much rain, and we’ve had a lot of hot days … Heat is not a pumpkin’s friend,” Tim Assiter, owner of Assiter Punkin Ranch & Pumpkin Patch, said.

Assiter said despite the difficult weather, the demand for his pumpkins is up about 50 percent, and his farm is preparing to ship orders as far away as Florida, Connecticut and Hawaii now that it’s peak pumpkin season. He suspected it’s because during the pandemic, more people are trapped at home and focused on decorating for fall and for Halloween.

“The pumpkins that we’ve sent out so far [where] we normally send a load to like Oklahoma City or someplace else, they say, ‘We sold out in a week. Can you get us some more?’ The demand is terrific,” Assiter said.

For cotton farmers, the recent severe weather has devastated their fields, leaving some with as much as a 95 percent loss. Assiter said that like cotton, the pumpkins have suffered too, but they’re doing okay now and they’re going to do more than survive the season.

He added that the worst weather for pumpkins is a freeze. To their surprise, the sudden cold front at the beginning of the month mostly left them alone, unlike last year’s sudden freeze in October.

“We had a freeze like October 10 or 12, which really devastated us. When it does freeze, our pumpkins are gone,” Assiter said.

He also said he’s confident that the rest of the season will go better because no matter the weather, people will still want their fall pumpkins — just in time for Halloween.

“We’re going to have a great [rest of the season]. I think we’re going to have a great pumpkin for the consumer, and they’re going to stay home and they’re going to decorate their houses and enjoy life a whole lot more for the rest of 2020 than they’ve done so far,” Assiter said.

If you want to support your local pumpkin farmers, the Assiter Pumpkin Ranch is having a Halloween pumpkin celebration the second weekend in October.

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