Some Iowa pumpkin patches are selling gourds imported from other states due to a widespread fungus in the fields. Halloween haunts normally packed with pumpkin pickers are seeing slim pickings this season. Kris Scheer of the Bloomsbury Farm in Atkins says the pumpkins that did mature rotted faster and earlier. Scheer says “Usually, when you look out into the pumpkin patch, it’s a sea of orange. This year, it’s pretty much spotty orange but it’s mostly green.”
Scheer says if you can only find big green pumpkins, consider carving a Frankenstein jack-o-lantern instead. She says Iowans who want pumpkins to bake with might have better luck. Scheer says “The pie pumpkins aren’t as effected as the ones that normally get really large or the ones that stay really small but the medium-sized ones that are used for pies really haven’t been effected as badly.”
Scheer says “Multiple problems” worked against pumpkin growers this year: a lot of rain, too much heat and then too much cold.” She says the pollination schedule also was late this season as they still had blooms in the fields up to two weeks ago when the first hard frost hit, which is unusual.
The farm, located 12 miles west of Cedar Rapids, has trucked in pumpkins from Missouri to supplement what’s been lost to the rot. Some growers have reportedly lost more than two-thirds of their crops.