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Rains hurt pumpkins, squash

MANKATO (AP) — It’s not a Great Pumpkin year, Charlie Brown.

The recurrent rains throughout the season that have plagued corn and soybean farmers have made for lousy vegetable, pumpkin and gourd crops.

“It hasn’t been the worst year, but probably second worst,” said George Denn of Hay by George, the largest pumpkin grower in the region.

“Everything was so slow this year. Stuff is still really not ripe. I’m picking greener pumpkins than I normally would now.”

Denn said the yield of squash and pumpkins on his 88 acres of land is down about 50% from normal.

“The rainy weather didn’t help. Pumpkins like it a little drier.”

He said multiple heavy rains also splattered soil on to the leaves, which is hard on the vine crops.

While larger pumpkins might be a little greener than usual, people will also find fewer mini pumpkins and gourds available.

“When I planted my minis, I planted way more than I usually need and thought I’d have too many. But I only got five loads. I normally get 20 loads,” Denn said.

The only positive for his bottom line is he hasn’t needed to hire as many helpers to pick from his fields spread out around the region.

Denn sells everything on the honor system at six sites, including the Madelia Church of Christ.

“I sell all my own produce on the honor system. There’s no guarantee with my deal, whatever the good Lord wants to give me.”

He said people are generally honest in putting the right amount of money in the cash boxes at his sites but estimates about a quarter of them give nothing.

Terri Anderson, of Valley Veggies on Highway 68 near Judson, said production from her wide variety of vegetables and vine crops is down by more than half.

“I don’t have near my normal of any of my fall stuff. I don’t think I’ve seen a worse year. A lot of the plants are in the stage I’d expect to see them in July.”

She planted 2,000 buttercup squash and got nothing. “We have none. They just didn’t appear.”

The only crops that did well this year are her cucumbers, which like wetter, cooler weather, and her tomatoes, which surprised her because they usually crave heat.

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