Wacky Weather Patterns Threaten Our Pumpkin Supply

How can we possibly have a festive fall without pumpkins?

Somehow there are still folks out there who think climate change is a hoax, even though barely a day goes by without Mother Nature letting us know that she is seriously pissed. The past two years have been a nonstop barrage of fires, droughts, floods, freak storms, and fire tornadoes, and yet there is a disturbingly large swath of the population convinced that all these things are no big whoop—presumably because they have yet to see climate change directly affect their own lives. Well, this might be the year their eyes will at last be opened, because unprecedented weather has threatened our pumpkin supply.

First climate change threw a wrench into sweater weather with warmer-than-average temperatures, then it started robbing us of fall foliage, and now we're staring down a future where pumpkins might be $1,000 luxury items? Yes, it's finally time to start paying attention, if you weren't already.

Local news outlets nationwide are reporting pumpkin shortages across the country, all with the common factor of uncommon weather. In North Carolina, FOX affiliate WJZY reports that Charlotte farmers saw their harvests cut almost in half by a wet spring and summer, forcing local businesses to import pumpkins from Ohio and raise prices as a result.

Kansas, too, has seen a shrunken pumpkin crop thanks to changing weather patterns. NBC affiliate KSNT reports that the state has seen poor harvests for several years due to rainy and especially hot weather, forcing business owners like Annette Jackson of Topeka's Jackson's Greenhouse and Garden Center to drive to Nebraska for pumpkins.

"The wet and the humidity here will cause a fungus to get started–so it'll get into the crop that way," Jackson told KSNT News. "You lose your foliage–you lose your protection for the fruit. Squash bugs get in there really bad and then we have the pests like the raccoons that get in."

In California, the problem for pumpkin patches is not extreme rain, but extreme drought. In Lafayette, ABC affiliate KGO reports that several pumpkin farms have gone out of business, and many of the surviving ones opted not to plant this year because of the lack of water. Pumpkin prices have gone up across the board; in some cases, they've doubled.

Has the pumpkin shortage found its way to your local grocery stores and garden centers? Do you notice any unusually high prices for gourds near you? Let us know, because we like homemade roasted pumpkin seeds, but dear god, not that much.

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