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Summer heat, drought carves away pumpkin supply

Pumpkin Pyle Farm sacrificed nearly half of its first pumpkin harvest to summer weather.

TEXAS, USA — East Texans may have noticed less pumpkin patches across the region than they're used to seeing at this point in September. 

That’s not a coincidence. Pumpkin farmers took a hit this summer.  

Scalding hot temperatures for weeks on end and droughts that lasted even longer dealt a blow that Pumpkin Pyle Farms in West Texas hasn’t felt since 2011's scorching hot summer. 

“The plant has to have a bloom before it'll make fruit. And so that excessive heat, just pitched all of the blooms," said farm partner Lindsey Pyle. 

Pyle said pumpkins grow best in warmer weather around 90 degrees with occasional rainfall. This summer gave them neither.

Pumpkin Pyle Farm prepared to have 900 acres worth of pumpkins in their first harvest. But instead they made out with about half of that.

"Where we should have had four to five pumpkins per plant, we probably only got about two to three pumpkins," Pyle said. 

Pumpkin patches across the state get their pumpkins straight from places like Pumpkin Pyle Farms.

On the receiving end, churches like Lanes Chapel Methodist in Tyler won’t know what they’re getting until they get it.   

"It may be swan neck gorge or it may be star shaped gorge," said lead Pastor Jeff Gage. "Has the drought affected us? I don't know. We'll know when we unload.”

He said regardless of what comes off the truck, they’re going to make the best of it. 

“We have a host of different photo booths and games from ring tosses, to beanbag toss to Tic Tac Toe games, a little bowling game," Gage said. "We have a train 'The Pumpkin Patch Express.'”

Lanes Chapel will be receiving their first 18-wheeler truckload full of pumpkins on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 9 a.m. The pumpkin patch and attractions will be open throughout October from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

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