Pumpkin Sales Normal, but Farmers Still Hurting from Summer Drought
Halloween is a few weeks away, so for many families, it’s time to pick out a perfect. There’s one problem: Alabama farmers say their pumpkin crop was affected by the state-wide drought.
Business this month is as usual at Dream Field Farms and Pumpkin Patch in Bullock County, school groups are out visiting, families are picking their jack-o-lantern, but farmers say this crop is not even close to what it should be.
“In a drought year it really makes it a lot harder to produce your crop, you can produce it but the more water you have to put on it the more it costs,” said Tom Ellis, Co-Owner of Dream Field Farms.
Not only is it expensive to water crops manually, Ellis says it’s harder to produce quality pumpkins with artificial water compared to rain.
Ellis says this year's pumpkin crop is the worst it's been in three years, but visitors would never know.
Hundreds of school groups and families visit Dream Field Farms daily throughout the month of October, and there’s no shortage in pumpkins.
“It’s perfect for kids, it's just completely set up for kids and they just have a blast,” said Tori Lassiter of Montgomery who was visiting the farm with her children’s daycare.
Some parents said they noticed a lack of larger pumpkins, but it didn’t take away from their kids’ experience at Dream Field Farms.
“She absolutely just loved being able to go and pick her own pumpkin and being in the pumpkin patch,” Sammie Bentley of Montgomery said.
This is a first time visit for Bentley and her 4-year old daughter, Alta, so it was extra special, even if there were more small pumpkins versus large ones.
“I was riding the hayride and after I found pumpkins everywhere,” Alta Bentley said with a smile standing next to her first pumpkin.
But all of those pumpkins are not from Dream Field Farm. Due to the extreme drought conditions over the summer, Dream Field farmers say only 25-percent of their larger pumpkins were successful.
“We had to go out and actually go to the farmer's markets and buy big ones to supplement our crop,” Ellis said.
While the smaller pumpkins had a 100-percent success rate, it’s the big pumpkins that bring in the business, and Ellis says his farm paid the cost to keep people visiting the farm.
“I don't think [the drought] affected bringing people here,” Ellis said. “It just makes the bottom line of our producing the crop to bring people here; it makes the expenses a lot higher.”
If you'd like to visit Dream Field Farms, it's on U.S. Highway 82, about 14 miles west of Union Springs.