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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Pumpkin yields decrease due to little rainfall

Pumpkin+knocks+pins+in+Pumpkin+Bowling+competition+during+Pumpkinpalooza+at+the+Millican+Reserve+on+Oct+15%2C+2023%28Adriano+Espinosa%2F+The+Battalion%29.
Photo by Adriano Espinosa

Pumpkin knocks pins in Pumpkin Bowling competition during Pumpkinpalooza at the Millican Reserve on Oct 15, 2023(Adriano Espinosa/ The Battalion).

This past June, many pumpkins did not grow to their full potential due to little rainfall in Texas. The drought decreased pumpkin yields, leading to increased prices and a shortage of pumpkins throughout the state. 

Juan Anciso, professor and extension vegetable specialist at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, said most of Texas’ pumpkins are produced in Floyd and Crosby County, and those counties experienced major problems this year. 

Anciso said the farmers water the pumpkin plants to get them to start sprouting, though when the pumpkins grow vines the farmers stop irrigating them to prevent the other plants from decaying. There doesn’t have to be significant rainfall to allow the plants to grow, Anciso said, but there needs to be at least a little rain.

“[Farmers] depend on rainfall to finish out the crops,” Anciso said. “This year, with the drought, there was no rainfall to help finish that crop correctly, so some of the estimates [show] that yield is down 30-40%.”

Mark Carroll, AgriLife extension agent for Floyd County, said to the Texas Farm Bureau that the drought this past summer led to a pumpkin production shortage this season.

“Some varieties have produced their usual amount, but others were extremely low in quantity,” Carroll said.

Anciso said it is too early to gauge the drought’s effect on pumpkin yields, but said the low yields can help farmers like it did in 2020 — when there was another drought. He said the consumers are the ones that were impacted by the increase in prices.

“In 2020, Texas had the highest pumpkin receipts compared to the other states that produced pumpkins,” Anciso said. “That [comparison] is primarily because prices were high, and the other states based the weather problems late in the season.” 

Although there was a decreased yield this year, Anciso said the demands were met because other states delivered pumpkins to Texas. 

“Before, there was a price per pound — how much that pumpkin weighed is how much they paid — but now, they are priced by piece,” Anciso said. “So you can be getting a pumpkin for a higher price, but you wouldn’t know it because the retailers are trying to sell at one set price.”

Horticulture freshman Hallie Bates, who has a two-acre strawberry farm, said she uses a drip irrigation system for her farm. Pumpkins, similar to strawberries, use a drip irrigation system, although pumpkins only use it for a short period of time. 

“It’s funny because my grandpa, an older farmer, do[es] things a little differently than this movement of sustainability and making sure the resources are well kept,” Bates said. “The drip irrigation system … is direct and effective rather than just overhead watering, where a lot of water is wasted.”

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