Heavy rains mean fewer pumpkins - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Heavy rains mean fewer pumpkins

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by Jenn Jarvis

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Like other crops, many pumpkins were wiped out by heavy rains this summer. And as Halloween gets closer, locally grown pumpkins are becoming a hot commodity.

Consumers won't notice a difference at chain stores because they ship many of their pumpkins in from out of state. But at a farmer's market or a local pumpkin farm, there may be less to choose from.

Dave Myers owns Heartland Farms in Cedar Falls which lost thousands of pumpkins this summer because of weeks of heavy rain. And because the ground was still wet, a second round a planting had to be delayed and now the pumpkins are battling frost.

"I've got enough I think for all my needs, I just haven't been quite so generous giving them away. A lot of years I give away as many as I sell. I've had to be a bit more conservative in that," Myers said.

But, with a pumpkin cannon, haunted house and animals, pumpkins aren't the only thing to attract students from West Cedar Elementary in Waverly.

"The hayride was really fun. We got to see the pumpkin patch and the strawberry patch and go through kind of a graveyard that they set up," Sara Nuss, a teacher, said.

Myers says the variety of activities is why the farm is a success.

"Yeah, some would drive out to the farm for just a pumpkin, but I think the majority of them come here to have a good time and get their pumpkin too. I think the two are so hooked toegher you can't separate them," he said.

Myers started the farm by growing strawberries in the 1980's at the height of the farm crisis. And after surviving that difficult time, he says the current crop and uncertain economy are nothing to worry about.

"Keep doing what you're doing. If it's popular and people like it, you'll stay in business," he said.

Heartland Farms has raised their prices from $0.35 to $0.39 cents a pound for pumpkins, because of the poor harvest and the rising cost of supplies. But the entrance fee has not changed, and school groups still get to take a pumpkin home at the end of their visit.

Online Reporter: Jenn Jarvis

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