Heavy summer rains affected fall pumpkin crops

POSTED: 5:05 PM Sep 26 2013   UPDATED: 2:56 PM Sep 26 2013
pumpkins
SCOTT COUNTY, Va. -

The region is getting a rather orange tint these days, and it's not the leaves changing -- it's time for the centerpiece of the season, the pumpkin.

We spent a day in the pumpkin patch to see how all of the rain this summer has affected this year's crop.

Orange is definitely the dominate color at Scott County's Pumpkin Patch. They're busy loading and unloading and shining up this year's pumpkin crop.

Walter Manis, known around these parts as the Pumpkin Man, tells us nationwide the crop is down about 50 percent. "About everything is wiped out south of here all the way to Florida because of the rain. Even on up north with the floods, the weather this summer has made a difference," Manis said.

But luckily that's not the case in Manis' pumpkin patch, except for the larger varieties. The farm did win a blue ribbon with a 185-pounder at the Russell County Fair. Some others were getting up around 400 pounds, but the rain caused them to rot on the vine.

A celebration is planned for their annual fall harvest celebration. "We're just thanking God for a good year and thanking our customers for coming out and supporting us for the past 23 years," Manis told us.

His pumpkin-growing business started by accident in another year that pumpkins were hard to find in our region. "Food City kind of got me started. There was a shortage of pumpkins and they were paying a great price for shipping from Mexico and Michigan. I could sell them a pumpkin cheaper than they could pay the freight," he said.

But now the grocery chain has grown and they need hundreds of thousands each year, so Manis has settled in on the farm and invites school children and groups out to meet the Pumpkin Man. "Everywhere these kids see us they call me the Pumpkin Man. It's an honor for me because they have a little thing about people. It's a plus for me and we've got kids now bringing their kids," he says.

As for the pumpkins, autumn wouldn't be autumn without them.