Pumpkin patches are one of the harbingers of autumn, showing up orange – or white or gray or blue – as the green vines retreat.
This year’s late summer and early fall deluges, however, have hurt Northeast Mississippi’s crop of the giant gourds.
Like most pumpkin farms in the region, Circle Y Equestrian Center near Corinth had a promising crop until September.
“Pumpkins do better in hot, dry weather, and we didn’t have that this summer,” said co-owner Sheryl Yancey. “We grow our own, and we supplement them with some others that we buy. We still have plenty of pumpkins, though.”
Adkins Farm near Booneville has actually canceled its fall agritourism schedule.
“We had a beautiful, bumper crop of pumpkins – all kinds – before the rains set in,” said co-owner Charlotte Adkins. “After the heavy rains set in, they started absorbing way too much water and started rotting in the fields, and our corn maze started falling over.”
The farm’s crew picked a wagonload of pumpkins and put them under a roof to preserve them, but they deteriorated even in the barn.
“You don’t want anybody coming to your farm and getting a pumpkin that will soon turn to mush,” Adkins said. “They won’t remember the good time at the farm; they’ll just remember the pumpkin. That’s why we’re not even open this fall.”
Jan Holley of Holley Farm near Fulton said her family’s pumpkin crop also has suffered, but with supplemental purchases from other farms they should have the 3,000 or so that they’ll need.
“The more days it rains the more pumpkins we’re going to lose,” she said. “We’re having to play it by ear, day by day.”
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church sells pumpkins every fall from its downtown Oxford churchyard. The 45,000-pound load comes from the Southwest, where the dry climate virtually guarantees a good crop.
“We get our pumpkins from Santa Fe, N.M.,” said chairwoman Amy Barton. “We’ve had some of the bigger pumpkins this year than we’ve ever had.”
Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal