CHARLES TOWN – Finding the perfect pumpkin for your jack-o’-lantern, pumpkin pie or outdoor décor shouldn’t be a problem for Panhandle residents this fall.
[cleeng_content id="959961774" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Though too-wet weather in much of West Virginia created problems with the crop, Eastern West Virginia has been more hospitable to the plants, explains Bob Tabb, the owner of Town & Country Nursery in Kearneysville.
“In places where there’s been continual rain, the ground is going to stay soggy,” he said. “There’s really nothing for farmers to do.”
Pumpkins tend to grow best in drier conditions, Tabb said. Most local growers rely on a dripline irrigation system that ensures plants get just enough moisture, he said.
And while the Panhandle is home to lots of pumpkins this fall – and pumpkins of good quality – shoppers should be prepared to pay more for them, Tabb said.
“It’s like a lot of things – the input costs have crept up,” he said. “Farmers are paying more for fuel, for fertilizer, for fungicides, all of that. The price of things that go into raising a crop have not gone down any.”
Still, many families make it an autumn tradition to visit a farm to pick out pumpkins, said Tabb, whose farm hosts tractor rides, corn and hay mazes, a petting zoo with goats purchased in August at the Jefferson County Fair and other fun designed for families.
“The whole concept of agritourism is that it’s an opportunity for people to come to a farm and enjoy multiple events without breaking the bank. Some people buy more than others but even without spending a lot, you can have a lot of fun.”
Tabb said he’s glad to see many local residents who are intent on showing their support for farmers here. “I tell folks that this is what we like to do – and they get to decide whether we keep doing it. If farms don’t have that community support, farmers can’t stay in business.”
In the southern part of the state, the search for that perfect pumpkin may be a bit tougher this year after heavy summer rains ruined many farm’s pumpkin crops.
Some farmers have connected with Ohio growers to ship in selections for pumpkin-hungry shoppers in Huntington and Barboursville as well as in Milton, which hosted its annual West Virginia Pumpkin Festival last weekend.
“Locally, there’s probably a little shortage because we had a little rain and they rotted and vines didn’t grow,” said Boyd Meadows of Meadows Produce in Milton. “But there are lot in North Carolina and Ohio and around.”
Officials at the West Virginia Department of Agriculture recently shared a list of spots for pumpkin picking, hay rides, corn mazes and other agri-fun across West Virginia. Besides Tabb’s farm, the locations in the Panhandle include:
– The Associated Press contributed to this report