Portage County pumpkin crop hit hard after summer rains flood fields

Pumpkin prices may rise after farms have crop loss

MANTUA, Ohio - Farms from as far away from each other as Navarre to Ashtabula experienced severe flooding in some of their fields in late June. Some were hard hit with up to 5 inches of rain, while others just miles away were barely touched.

Pumpkin farmers had most of their plants well into vine-stage with fresh fruit starting to eagerly grow. Those near heavy rains that week that left them under water were doomed to either die or rot before they could mature.

Mantua farmers in Portage County often have a mix of soil with which to work. I drought, a clay base can save precious water for roots, while this year's rain made their fields more like a pond stunting any chance for survival.

Phil Carlton's family has been rotating crops with success for three generations. Carlton says farming is often like gambling depending on what he plants. He lost over 15 acres of his pumpkin crop this year. At 15 cents a pound, an acre yielding 10 to 15 tons each acre, it's a loss that hurts.

"Two summers ago when we were planting them we had to water them to germinate because it was so dry, but we probably had the best yield and best crop we've had. This year it looked good to start off with, then we got that four inches of rain in one day and that kind of took care of them real quick," said Carlton.

With multiple returning customers in Ohio and Pennsylvania, Carlton had to resort to buying pumpkins from neighboring farmers to meet his September and October demand. One of those was from Pochedly Farms situated just miles from Carlton, but with more sand for soil than clay. They are having an above average crop this year so far.

Picking pumpkin pie-type pumpkins Friday, Jeff Pochedly and his brother Mike had the luck of beautiful weather as well as an off-day for their teenage children from school. Jeff's Chevrolet pickup truck worked its way through the dry soil with ease, large cardboard bins swelling with perfect pumpkins as family and dogs walked the fields with purpose.

Those bins were the second round after an early morning picking had already made its way to markets by noon near Akron.

The Pochedlys were more than happy to sell their 2013 crop good fortune to the Carlton Farms Produce. Depending on the year, they have needed to do the same.

"We work together. When he's out, we have plenty and if we're out then we get some from him," said Mike Pochedly. "Because of our sandy soil and good drainage around here, the six inches of rain that week just drained off, ran off. It really helped us for a good crop."

Both farms sell multiple crops each season, with large and small pumpkins and gourds in stock while the supply lasts. Jeff Pochedly also specializes in maple syrup in mid-winter and spring ... yes, also depending on success with the Ohio weather.

For information on Carlton Farm Produce call: 330-274-2387 or 330-274-2444 or visit their website.

For Pochedly Farms call: 330-274-8585 or call 330-274-1026 or visit their website .


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