By Christy Strawser
CBS Detroit Managing Editor
The northeast may be facing a pumpkin shortage, but Michigan is sitting pretty atop the jack o’lantern heap.
Local farmers say a bumper crop of gourds is popping up in fields across metro Detroit — so shuck off any worries about pumpkin shortages or crazy high prices.
“They’re the exact same price as last year, .35 cents a pound,” said Lori Penrod, a staffer at Blake Orchard and Cider Mill in Armada.
Bairon Stader, owner of BJ Farm in Temperance, agrees, saying his roster of regular and novelty pumpkins — including black and gray and traditional Halloween pumpkins in all sizes — is bursting at the seams.
“I’m having no issues,” Stader said. “The shortage is in the New England area, but my crop is beautiful.” He’s keeping his prices at the usual cost, from $3.50 to $12 per pumpkin, depending on size.
It’s a different story on the East Coast, where Hurricane Irene destroyed hundreds of pumpkin patches with sheets of rain that overflowed rivers and flooded fields. Another torrrent of rain about two weeks before Irene caused outbreaks of the phytophthora fungus -a type of water mold — in many fields, Jim Stakey, owner of Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm in Aquebogue, New York, told the Associated Press.
Wholesale prices have doubled in some places as farmers nurse their surviving pumpkin plants toward a late harvest, the Associated Press found. Some farmers are trying to buy pumpkins from other regions to cover orders.
“I think there’s going to be an extreme shortage of pumpkins this year,” Darcy Pray, owner of Pray’s Family Farms in Keeseville, in upstate New York, told the Associated Press. “I’ve tried buying from people down in the Pennsylvania area, I’ve tried locally here and I’ve tried reaching across the border to some farmers over in the Quebec area. There’s just none around.”
The wholesale price for a bin of 32 to 45 pumpkins ranged from $150 to $200 in upstate New York, about twice the normal price, Pray said. It was still unclear how the shortage would affect retail prices, he said, but in a normal year, each pumpkin could sell for up to $15 at a supermarket in a big city like New York.
But none of that is visible in metro Detroit.
“We’re high and dry here, we didn’t have any flooding, we didn’t lose any pumpkins — If there’s a shortage anywhere, we’re hoping it convinced people to come sooner,” said Eric DeBuck, manager of DeBucks Corn Maze and Pumpkin Patch in Belleville.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.