What a difference a year makes. Last year flooding caused a major pumpkin shortage. This year, many farmers say they're experiencing one of their best crops, thanks to the dry warm weather. But as our Katie Gibas reports, for some areas, the drought was too much, leaving them with a poor season two years in a row.
NNEW YORK STATE -- This is what many pumpkin patches looked like across the Southern Tier after flooding devastated the crop.
"We did lose a couple pumpkin fields creek side. And they floated down the Susquehanna, along with a lot of other things. And it was so wet that the fields not affected by the flooding, with the dampness, a lot of the pumpkins were rotting," said Jennifer Jennison, Iron Kettle Farms Partner.
This year, the Southern Tier's pumpkin crop seems to have bounced back. That's thanks to the hot dry weather. Many say this year is on par or even better than most pre-flood years.
"We've had decent weather. We had a dry June and July, which we were a little nervous about. We were able to irrigate some of our pumpkins. And the hilltop ground held enough water that they did well. We got rain right when we needed it. So it's been a good growing year. It's dried off a little now, which is good, which is what pumpkins like. They don't like it too wet when it comes to harvest time. And we're looking like it's going to be a good crop this year," said Jennison.
With this year's pumpkin crop, it seems like a difference of just ten miles can make all the difference. The owner of Critz Farms here in Cazenovia says he's had one of the worst years, even worse than last year. But he says one of his colleagues just a few minutes away says it's been one of the best.
"This is basically a very good year for us. We always have good years, but if you were to look around here, our pumpkins are large. They have great handles. We have a large variety. We have pink pumpkins, brown pumpkins."Chet Dudzinski, the owner of the Pumkin Patch in Cicero.
Matthew Critz, the Critz Farms Owner, added, "The drought was very, very localized. Just ten miles south of us, they had two or three more inches of rain in July, when it was really, really critical. I'm probably one of the few guys that aren't having a really good year this year."
Critz Farms says they have plenty of pumpkins for their local retail customers, but they lost more than half of their wholesale crop.
"We usually ship 20 or 25 tractor trailer loads. And if we get to eight this year I will be surprised," said Critz.
But it's not all bad news for Critz. They supply the pumpkins for Empire Brewing Company's pumpkin beer. And the dry weather means tastier pumpkin products.