Weather hurts Dubuque County pumpkin supply - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Weather hurts Dubuque County pumpkin supply

Pumpkin grower Mike Spoerl examines pumpkins he had to buy from neighbors to supplement his supply Pumpkin grower Mike Spoerl examines pumpkins he had to buy from neighbors to supplement his supply

The nation's supply of pumpkins this year has taken a hit, and Dubuque County is not immune to that trend.

Hurricane and Tropical Storm Irene wiped out pumpkin patches throughout the Northeast part of the United States, and extreme weather in Dubuque County hurt local growers as well.

Mike Spoerl is a pumpkin grower just outside Sherrill in Dubuque County. He harvested his crop within the past week and said he ended up with about 25,000 pounds' worth of pumpkins, when he normally harvests 35,000 pounds.

"Every year does pose its challenges, but, like I said, this year has seemed to be an exceptionally tough one," he said.

Spoerl said the decrease is likely due to the extreme heat and heavy rains of this summer.

"Plants are a lot like people, you know. They want to be comfortable and able to grow, too, so any extremes in the temperatures do pose their challenges, and we did see our share of them here in Dubuque County this year," Spoerl said.

Not all farmers had a bad pumpkin crop, however.

"We deal with some of the Amish folks, and some of them have had really good years and other ones of those have had really tough years," Spoerl said. "A lot of it, I think, also depends on what kind of soil you've got, how your drainage and that type of thing is."

He had to supplement his own crop by buying pumpkins from neighbors in order to meet the demand of fall tourism season.

On Sunday, Spoerl was on the last day of his sixth annual Fall Harvest Days and Pumpkin Festival. Despite his diminished yield, Spoerl had a record number of people attend - approximately 2,000.

Chris Flanagan and her husband took their two young boys to the festival.

"The boys love coming out here and getting to pick out their pumpkin and having a nice little treat from the bakery or some ice cream," she said.

Her family makes it an annual tradition.

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