Sunday, September 7, 2003

Rain could squash pumpkin harvest

Hope slim for bumper pumpkin crops

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Weather in the coming week will decide the fate of Ohio pumpkins. This year's rainy summer has contributed to disease in the crop, but a dry week should help, authorities said.

"We just got this last torrential rain," said Ohio State University plant pathologist Mac Riedel. "We'll know better (about the crop) in another week or so."

Riedel said Ohio pumpkins are being affected by a variety of rain-related fungal diseases, including powdery mildew, downy mildew and Microdochium blight.

Brent Rhoads, who operates a farm market near Circleville south of Columbus, hesitated to make a prediction about the year's pumpkin harvest. "Most of the vine crops have experienced a lot of difficulty this year," he said.

In Ohio, one of the nation's top pumpkin producers, growers harvest an average of 3,600 acres a year, the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service said.

The service said wholesale prices should range between 10 and 12 cents a pound, while the retail price could hit between 20 and 25 cents - typical for Ohio.

Circleville Pumpkin Show planners are particularly interested. The four-day event is set to begin Oct. 15.

"The weather has definitely impacted the pumpkin growers," said Barry Keller, vice president of the show. "We'll still plan accordingly that we'll have another great show."

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