Drought fails to squash fall pumpkin harvest

AUGUSTA, AR (KAIT) -Several local pumpkin growers are enjoying an unusually large pumpkin crop, despite the exceptional lack of summer rain.

It's because these gourds do not require much water to flourish.

In fact, the remnants of Hurricane Isaac nearly wiped out Katie Pebbles's crop, dumping 10 inches of rain in only 3 days.

"We take backhoes and ditchers and ditch downhill so everything drains well out of here. We ditched all the way to the highway from here."

However, the exceptional drought hasn't gone unnoticed.

The months without rain put a strain on the economy in several southern states.

Peebles says they were forced to raise prices slightly because of higher trucking costs.

One shipment to Texas can cost eighteen-hundred dollars.

"We've noticed that the pumpkin, they've been hard to find this year. We've been getting calls from Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri. We've remained steady on the price for pumpkins. We went up just a tiny bit."

The bumper harvest began around Labor Day weekend, but all summer pumpkin growers battled against mildew and bugs.

"That's expensive. The fungicides, the other chemicals you have to keep to keep the pumpkins from rotting down."

One thing the summer drought did affect was the size of the prize-winning giant pumpkins, which can weigh up to a whopping 150 pounds.

"That's the only thing we had trouble with this year. We haven't harvested any that were over 75 pounds."

Peebles's 60-acre pumpkin patch and 40-acre corn maze opens to the public today and should remain open through late fall.

"We've got green pumpkins out here that will make through October 31st."

Copyright 2012 KAIT. All rights reserved.