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Drought tough on pumpkin growers - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Drought tough on pumpkin growers

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Pumpkin season is here, but local growers say production is down.  

"It's a tough year. The fifth year of a drought is tough on everybody," says Carolyn Davis of My Granny's Garden in Paso Robles. 

Davis says she is physically seeing the toll of the drought. 

"It is hard to get the big, beautiful orange ones, so you will have fewer," says Davis. 

The larger, commercial growers are producing fewer pumpkins this year, making local sellers buy sooner than later.  

"They have sold out and you can't get them anymore, so we were very careful to get them early because we were afraid that would happen," she explains. 

And Davis is not alone. 

"This is one of the tougher, more restrictive years," says Shawn Callaway, owner of Brookshire Farms in San Luis Obispo.  "We have brought in one full load from Oregon alone because of the shortage."

Callaway has been in the pumpkin industry for 25 years. 

"There is definitely a shortage that we are seeing in the industry statewide. We are about 40 percent below that we might see," says Callaway.

The consistent heat is speeding up the pumpkins' growth this season, nearly three to four weeks earlier.  

"More from the heat, they are ready earlier, maturing faster," says Nicole Brandow of Lewis Farms. 

Brandow has grown up on her family's patch off of Highway 227 in Edna Valley. She says they have used less water when planting than ever before because of the drought. 

"I would carve the day you want to light them up because once they are exposed to the air on the inside they are not going to last much longer," says Brandow. 

Rain or shine, local growers say the pumpkins are ready for picking across the coast. 

"Every year is different. That is what makes agriculture cool," explains Davis about California's weather. "It is also what put the 'ag' in agriculture because you don't know what the year is going to do." 

Some patches across the Central Coast are raising prices on pumpkins as well, due to lack of transportation from having to import their pumpkins. 

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