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Published: Wednesday, 10/10/2001

Pumpkin prices hold line despite poor crops

BY JANE SCHMUCKER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

At Ken Trabbic's patch in Monroe County's Erie Township, the weather was so opposite of what pumpkins need that Mr. Trabbic attributed his crop - which is about three-quarters of usual - to the grace of God.

As early as July, he feared the vines would die from lack of rain. Then, temperatures turned too hot just as the plants were flowering. About two weeks ago, the patch was hit with hail.

Yet the Trabbic family harvested hundreds of pumpkins that are priced at their usual range of 25 cents to $50.

In Wood County's Middleton Township, Rick Johnson had even poorer luck, harvesting about 40 percent of a crop.

Kept out of the fields in May by extraordinary rains, he planted his pumpkin seeds in mid-June, weeks later than he intended. By September, he realized he wouldn't have as many pumpkins as usual to sell wholesale and would supply only his retail stand, The Pumpkin Peddler. His price is 25 cents a pound.

Whiteford Road Greenhouse in Sylvania Township paid the same wholesale price as it has for six years for the 30,000 pounds of pumpkins it ordered from area growers, manager Mike Abernathy said. The store had 1,200 pumpkins for sale yesterday.

“Halloween is always real predictable,” he said. The greenhouse kept its pumpkin price the same as last year's, 20 cents a pound, selling the average pumpkin for $5 to $6.

Across Ohio, where 5,000 to 6,000 acres of pumpkins are usually a $25 million crop, yields were cut by 50 percent in many patches, according to Mac Riedel, a vegetable pathologist at Ohio State University. He blamed much of the losses on fungal diseases, worsened by the weather, that keep pumpkins from growing and may discolor them.



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