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PNS Daily Newscast - November 16, 2018 


Winter Storm Avery takes lives, puts the brakes on commutes across the Northeast. Also on our Friday rundown: A first-of-its-kind report calls for policies to ease transitions of young people living in foster care. And "got gratitude" this holiday season? It could benefit your health.

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Maryland's Pumpkin Crop Drowns in Soggy Summer

Pumpkins for sale at Maryland stores are more likely to be trucked in from other states this year, as record rainfall squashed the pumpkin-growing season. (Grantbahk/Pixabay)
Pumpkins for sale at Maryland stores are more likely to be trucked in from other states this year, as record rainfall squashed the pumpkin-growing season. (Grantbahk/Pixabay)
October 19, 2018

PARKVILLE, Md. – You may notice higher prices for pumpkins this Halloween. Some Maryland farmers are being forced to buy the popular gourds out of state after an unusually wet summer drowned this fall's pumpkin crop.

Record rainfall – amounts of 55 to 70 inches in some Maryland counties – has affected the state in multiple ways, from delaying road projects to downing trees. And for farmers like Steve Weber of Weber's Cider Mill Farm in Parkville, it means being left with undersized pumpkins and too few to sell.

Weber says it's unlike anything he's seen before.

"Never to this extent,” says Weber. “And most times, when we've had to go hunting in other states for pumpkins, it's been about just a short crop – it was dry, it was this, it was that, you know; you couldn't plant, you couldn't do that, you know. This is pretty pervasive on the whole eastern seaboard."

The extended wet period has also created favorable growing conditions for fungal pathogens on trees. The state Department of Agriculture's Forest Pest Management program advises landowners to keep a close watch on trees affected by heavy rainfall.

Weber says pumpkins will still be available for anyone who needs them, as they are being shipped in, primarily from the Midwest.

Weber adds for the most part, it's normal to have occasional wet summers – but the roller-coaster ride is never easy for farmers.

"Wet summers, dry summers, wet summers, dry summers – there is always a pattern to it, you know, it's been going on for years,” says Weber. “There's even an old farmer's saying for it, that's especially true with pumpkins: 'A dry year will scare you to death; a wet year will starve you to death.'"

Insurance polices to cover pumpkin losses are sold only in Illinois, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As for recovering from this year's wet season, Weber says most farms have diversified their crops enough to get them through in a pinch.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - MD