Despite rain, frost, area pumpkins thriving

By Ryan Cornell

Despite the excessive rains and cooler temperatures that have badgered many farmers throughout the state, the pumpkins in Winchester are starting to come in full, large and seriously orange.

Kevin Semones, secretary and treasurer of the Virginia Pumpkin Growers Association, said he’s heard reports of some farmers losing 50 to 65 percent of their regular crop yields due to this year’s unwieldy weather conditions.

Soaked fields in June and July mean less pollinating. Less pollinating means less fruit.

“You’re going to have bare vines in certain spots,” he said.

Marker Miller Orchards in Winchester offers pick-your-own pumpkins on a 5-acre patch. Owner John Marker said his yield hasn’t been affected.

“They’re looking very good so far,” he said, adding that his patch is situated on well-drained land.

Vernon Wright runs the Hill High Farm a couple miles down the road. His family has owned the farm for 100 years and this is their 17th year growing pumpkins.

He said many school groups take field trips to the farm to pick their own pumpkins from the 10-acre patch. He said they’re experiencing an average yield this season.

The weather hasn’t been a nuisance for him, but the animals have.

“Deer are a problem,” he said. “They eat the plants when they’re young and are starting to eat the pumpkins. Groundhogs, too.”

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or