The Impact of Severe Weather Conditions on the United States’ Pumpkin Harvest This Year

by Chloe Baker
Extreme Weather Impact on Pumpkin Farming

Hudson, CO.—

From his northeastern Colorado pumpkin farm, Alan Mazzotti enjoys a sweeping view of the Rocky Mountains approximately 30 miles to the west. Last winter’s heavy snowfall was evident even from this distance, a fact he confirmed during a skiing trip with his family at Winter Park Resort.

However, despite a season of higher-than-average snowfall, the water reservoir that Mazzotti depends on for irrigating his pumpkin fields failed to replenish sufficiently. This spring, he was informed that his water allocation would be nearly half of what it was the previous year, compelling him to reduce his usual pumpkin planting by half. To make matters worse, unseasonable downpours in May and June created waterlogged conditions in the fields, inhibiting further planting efforts.

“By the time the rains began to impact our water reserves and everything else, it was simply too late for this growing season,” noted Mazzotti.

For numerous pumpkin farmers across states like Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado, this year’s harvest has underscored the broader water-related challenges affecting agriculture in the Southwest and West, which are exacerbated by anthropogenic climate change. This includes increased frequency of droughts and heatwaves. Some growers experienced yield reductions of more than 20%, while others, like Mazzotti, had to leave parts of their land fallow. Concurrently, rising labor costs and inflationary pressures are squeezing profit margins.

This year’s parched pumpkins serve as a stark representation of the dilemmas that irrigated farmers must repeatedly confront. They are forced to make difficult decisions concerning water quotas and electricity costs for pumping water, while deciding which crops are financially viable to cultivate during increasingly hot and arid summers.

Pumpkins are somewhat resilient to hot and dry conditions, but this year’s record-breaking heatwaves, with temperatures soaring above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), overwhelmed their tolerance. As Mark Carroll, a Texas A&M extension agent, observes, such weather conditions are beyond what even irrigation can compensate for. Additionally, pumpkins require cooler temperatures for successful harvesting and shipping, lest they begin to decompose prematurely.

High irrigation costs are further inflating farmers’ energy bills, which are now running into the thousands of dollars monthly. Lindsey Pyle, who operates a 950-acre pumpkin farm in North Texas, noted a rise in her energy costs alongside spikes in other expenses such as supplies and chemicals. Similarly, Steven Ness, who farms both pinto beans and pumpkins in central New Mexico, pointed out that dwindling groundwater supplies are affecting all farmers in the region. These water constraints influence what crops are cultivated, especially when crops like corn and pumpkins consume similar amounts of water but pumpkins offer higher financial returns.

In sum, the challenge of depleted aquifers remains an ongoing concern. “Our real problem is the lack of deep moisture and groundwater,” said Ness. Climate change is aggravating the issue, reducing the precipitation needed to replenish these water sources in the already arid Western United States.

Jill Graves, who integrated a pumpkin patch into her blueberry farm near Dallas, had to resort to purchasing pumpkins from wholesalers this year. Although the pumpkins she acquired rotted quicker than in previous years, it was still preferable to relying on her own meager harvest.

Mazzotti believes that the absence of sufficient water is a significant hurdle, but he considers labor to be an even greater challenge. While many crops can be harvested mechanically, pumpkins require manual labor, exacerbating the cost pressures. Additionally, a recent Colorado law mandating overtime pay for farm laborers has heightened these financial strains. Mazzotti describes the confluence of these challenges as a “no-win situation,” casting doubt on the future viability of pumpkin farming, at least in his family.

Walling reported from Chicago.

For more comprehensive climate coverage, visit AP’s climate and environment section.

Follow Melina Walling and Brittany Peterson on X, previously known as Twitter: @MelinaWalling and @BrittanyKPeters.

Big Big News’ climate and environmental coverage is supported by multiple private foundations, although all content is exclusively the responsibility of the AP.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Extreme Weather Impact on Pumpkin Farming

What is the primary focus of this text?

The primary focus of the text is to explore the impact of extreme weather conditions, exacerbated by climate change, on pumpkin farming in the United States. It delves into the challenges that farmers face, such as water scarcity and rising costs.

How are pumpkin farmers affected by extreme weather conditions?

Pumpkin farmers are experiencing reduced water allocations for irrigation due to insufficient reservoir replenishment. Extreme weather events, such as heavy rains and record-breaking heatwaves, have further complicated farming activities, leading to reduced yields and increased costs.

What are some of the challenges that these farmers face besides weather?

In addition to weather-related challenges, farmers are grappling with rising labor costs and inflation. They also face high energy bills for pumping water, and recent legislative changes have mandated overtime pay for farm laborers, further increasing operational costs.

What are the implications of water scarcity on what crops to grow?

Water scarcity forces farmers to make difficult choices about what crops to cultivate based on water quotas and potential financial returns. For example, farmers might opt to grow pumpkins over corn if both require similar water amounts but pumpkins yield higher financial returns.

How does climate change exacerbate these challenges?

Climate change intensifies extreme weather conditions like droughts and heatwaves, which in turn affect water availability for irrigation. It also alters precipitation patterns necessary for replenishing aquifers and reservoirs, thereby contributing to long-term water scarcity.

What solutions or adaptations are farmers considering?

The text does not explicitly discuss solutions or adaptations farmers are considering. However, some farmers like Jill Graves have resorted to sourcing pumpkins from wholesalers due to inadequate yields. Others might be reconsidering the types of crops they grow based on water availability and financial viability.

Is there a future for pumpkin farming given these challenges?

According to Alan Mazzotti, one of the farmers featured in the text, the future of pumpkin farming is uncertain. Challenges such as water scarcity, rising labor costs, and legislative changes make it a “no-win situation,” raising questions about the sector’s long-term viability.

More about Extreme Weather Impact on Pumpkin Farming

  • AP’s Climate and Environment Coverage
  • Water Scarcity and Agriculture
  • Impact of Climate Change on Farming
  • Legislation on Farmworker Overtime Pay
  • Understanding Aquifer Recharge and Depletion
  • Record-Breaking Heatwaves and Agriculture

You may also like


Sarah Williams October 29, 2023 - 5:28 pm

Wow, the water crisis is real and it’s affecting every aspect of life. even our holidays are not spared.

Laura Wilson October 30, 2023 - 5:07 am

Agriculture is really the frontline of climate change isn’t it? First it was wildfires affecting wine crops, now it’s pumpkins. What a time to be alive.

Emily Johnson October 30, 2023 - 6:31 am

the fact that climate change is affecting even the most basic things like pumpkin farming is so unsettling. What’s next?

John Smith October 30, 2023 - 7:37 am

This is an eye-opener for sure. Never really thought how the weather messes with something as simple as picking pumpkins. kinda puts things in perspective, eh?

Mike Anderson October 30, 2023 - 8:55 am

Really well researched. Farmers have it tough. Labor, weather, costs…it’s a lot. This kinda stuff needs more attention.

Robert Brown October 30, 2023 - 1:29 pm

This is in-depth and alarming. Never knew that pumpkin farming was this complex and affected by so many variables. Good read tho.


Leave a Comment


BNB – Big Big News is a news portal that offers the latest news from around the world. BNB – Big Big News focuses on providing readers with the most up-to-date information from the U.S. and abroad, covering a wide range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, business, health, and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest News

© 2023 BBN – Big Big News