Pumpkins are plentiful in Pa., NJ

 (Phil Gregory/WHYY)

(Phil Gregory/WHYY)

All the rain from last week’s nor’easter came near the end of the growing season, and farmers say it hasn’t hurt the area pumpkin crop.

Rich Norz, who grows pumpkins on his farm in Hillsborough in New Jersey, said plenty of pumpkins are available to choose from for the Halloween season.

“The growing conditions were a bit difficult with the extreme dry weather we had and heat, but we do have a pretty decent crop,” Norz said. “Size is average, maybe just a tad bit smaller. We don’t have the tremendously big pumpkins this year because we were light on rain.”

New Jersey Farm Bureau president Ryke Suydam, who also grows pumpkins on his farm in Franklin Township, said the weather helped make this crop the best in years.

“I’ve been growing pumpkins for about 20-something years, and I’ve got to tell you, it’s one of the top five. Dry weather is good because it prevents disease,” Suydam said. “When you get too much moisture, sometimes you get mildew and things like that. We didn’t get much of that later in the growing season so that helps.”

Pumpkins are a $7 million crop in New Jersey with about 300 farmers growing them.

In Pennsylvania, the fifth-largest pumpkin-producing state in the nation, farmers also faced the challenges of a rain-delayed start to the growing season as well as the heat of July and August.

That less than ideal weather has meant a lower yield and slightly smaller pumpkins, said Mark O’Neill of the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau.

That’s all relative, however.

For example, the largest pumpkin at the Pennsylvania Giant Pumpkin Growers Association this year was only 1,797 pounds, which was not a record, he said.

“The bottom line is that there is not a shortage of pumpkins in Pennsylvania,” O’Neill said in an email. “Consumers should be able to get the pumpkin they want from a wide selection.”

Halloween season is a big deal for many of them.

“Kind of like Black Friday is for retailers at Christmas time, the fall crop in pumpkins and mums and the cornstalks sometimes can be in essence the Black Friday for the farmer that’s in the vegetable business,” Suydam said.

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