With Hamilton County schools on fall break, families spend Friday at Old McDonald's Farm in Sale Creek looking for the perfect pumpkins. But manager Brant Crowder says pickings are a little slim this year.
"Production's off probably around 40% off of what it's been the last couple years," says Crowder.
It's mainly because of excessive rain at planting time back in June.
"We had a lot rain early," Crowder emphasizes. "Then we had a lot of insect issues as well as diseases."
He's been able to spare enough of the Halloween and Thanksgiving-associated gourds to satisfy customer so far. But Crowder also relies on other local growers and suppliers, and they're not doing well, either.
The area had nearly 5" of rainfall in June, almost an inch above normal. June 10th saw a near-record daily amount of 1.32".
If Crowder's supply doesn't last, he'll have to call a more expensive source. This could mean higher prices for those who wait too long to take their hay ride to the pumpkin patch.
"If we have to go out of state or go further away from here, transportation costs will come into play and we will probably have to charge more and we'll have to pay more of them as well," says Crowder.
Just enough to cover the extra cost. Crowder says he doesn't make much off pumpkins as it is, even in a good year. He wants people to enjoy the experience.
People like East Ridge mom Toshia Tawzer. The shortage is news to her.
"This is the first I've heard. Nobody's mentioned it to me," says Tawzer.
She's glad she and her family came early in the picking season. She paid only 25 dollars for six good sized pumpkins, one of them a 30-pounder. If they come back for more and the price is higher, would she pay?
"No. We'd go smaller," says Tawzer. "We'd downsize."
Crowder says most people have been willing to shell out a few extra bucks in the past, but there's not much he can do. After all, he can't control mother nature. "When you farm, you always hope for next year," adds Crowder.
Old McDonald's Farm is open Saturdays and Sundays through the first weekend of November.