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Pumpkin crop killed in St. Johns County

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Updated: 10/29/2013 6:22 pm
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- It's the seasonal squash this time of year: pumpkins!

But experts say a wet summer killed off any chance there was of producing the crop in our area.

Pumpkin farmer Bucky Sykes says his field of pumpkins turned into acres of weeds.

He says it was all due to this year's weather.

"We had a lot of rain, an extreme amount of rain and there was so much wetness, the humidity and fungus, it killed them," said Sykes.

St. Johns County Extension Director Dan Cantliffe says this is the case with most of the other pumpkin farmers in the county.

It isn't the only problem he's heard about from farmers.

"The pumpkin fruit themselves fill up too much with water and they become too soft and we have problems with pumpkins rotting in the field," said Cantliffe.

Sykes says there is only one way to handle that problem with demand for pumpkins at their peak.

"We had to buy pumpkins to bring in to sell for our corn maze," said Sykes.

Sykes says this isn't the first time he's had to import pumpkins.

In fact, he's had to do it the past three years because the weather didn't cooperate.

But Cantliffe says this is a chance farmers in St. Johns County take every day.

"This is exactly the way it is, it's a gamble. If you're a farmer, it's like going to Las Vegas like trying to do your business," said Cantliffe.

Sykes says he may lose money on the pumpkins overall, because of added freight cost and a need to keep his prices competitive.

Sykes says if the crop isn't good again next year, they'll have to import pumpkins again.

He says he is keeping the Sykes and Cooper farm open an extended weekend this year.

The farm will be open to buy pumpkins through Sunday, Nov. 3.
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