Northeast farmers warn of pumpkin shortage

NEW YORK

The deluge of rain from Hurricane Irene did serious damage to hundreds of pumpkin patches. Some growers in New York and Massachusetts reported total losses of their crops. On farmer saw his entire crop, 15,000 to 20,000 pumpkins, wash away during Irene.

Farmers expect to sell out of the few pumpkins they do manage to harvest. They say people can expect to pay twice as much this year for their Halloween jack-o'-lanterns because of the shortage.

But pumpkin farmers had been having a difficult year even before the storm. Heavy rains this spring meant many farms had to postpone planting for two or three weeks, setting back the fall harvest.

A late harvest can be fatal to business because pumpkin sales plummet after Halloween on Oct. 31. Wholesalers need to get pumpkins on their way to stores by mid-September.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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