Texas Pumpkin Crops Hit Hard by Heavy Rain

The most popular pumpkins — jack-o'-lanterns — were hit the hardest

It's the peak time of year to harvest pumpkins, but the weather hasn't been so kind to Texas crops.

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports Lindsey Pyle, with Pumpkin Pyle in Floydada, said crops looked good and the harvest season was showing promise until a string of heavy rainfall moved across the South Plains, tagging Floydada a couple of weeks ago.

Floydada is about an hour's drive northeast of Lubbock.

The muggy weather conditions that have followed those showers are not ideal for crop growth, she said, adding the ground hasn't soaked in much of the rainfall.

Tim Assiter, owner of Assiter Punkin Ranch in Floydada, said harvesting pumpkins is a hands-on process. Unlike other crops, pumpkins have to be picked individually.

Assiter, Pyle and Amado Morales, another pumpkin grower in Floydada, said recent rainfall delayed them from getting out into the fields to harvest their gourds.

"Farming is an odd thing," Assiter said. "You make a pact with Mother Nature when you do this."

Assiter described weather patterns this year as the "most diverse in recent memory."

Pumpkin crop yields are down as a result, he said.

Morales said many of his crops fell victim to poorly timed rainfall. "When they were starting to bud, we got a lot of rain," he said.

Morales usually grows about 100 acres of pumpkins. He estimates the weather has caused a 50 to 60 percent loss of his crop this year.

He, Assiter and Pumpkin Pyle each produce more than 70 pumpkin varieties each year.

The most popular pumpkins — jack-o'-lanterns — were hit the hardest, he said.

According to Pyle and Assiter, weather woes have affected more than just the supply in the South Plains. Both said their crops are regularly shipped across Texas and several other states. This year, Pyle said, Pumpkin Pyle has received many calls from Louisiana because the hurricanes wiped out those crops.

Assiter said he's received similar from hurricane-ravaged areas, too.

He's been doing his best to meet demands. But the weather has affected more than just quantity.

Besides heavy rain, Assiter's crops also experienced intense heat this season, with much of it coming during an above-average June. It affected the size of his pumpkins.

Assiter pointed out a Big Maxx pumpkin that reached a weight of about 130 pounds. Under different growing conditions, he said, it could have reached 200 pounds.

Assiter said he's not discouraged.

"We're thankful for what we do have," he said, referring to the best of his crop. "Those are beautiful pumpkins."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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