WINNIPEG -- What's normally a season full of excitement, has been one full of concerns for a Manitoba pumpkin patch.
Schwabe Pumpkins, based in St. Andrews, has had a rollercoaster of a growing season. Owner Melody Schwabe said they planted their seeds on time as usual, and then waited for rain. The lack of precipitation at the start of the growing season led to the first of many problems.
“We’ve got birds that like to dig up our seeds,” said Schwabe. “You lose hundreds of seeds to the birds when the ground’s not wet and germinating.”
The next problem came when winds ripped through their farm, said Schwabe. It took down their barn, which housed several displays, and snapped off pumpkins that had finally started to grow.
“It’s been a very rough year on us this year,” said Schwabe.
“For a while there, we were thinking that maybe a lot of our seeds had blown away too, because nothing was coming up when it should have through June.”
When July rolled around, the rain started to fall enough that seeds were sprouting again. However, the pumpkins were now a month behind schedule. Schwabe said it typically takes 100 days for a pumpkin to grow.
“We just worked with what we had,” said Schwabe, explaining they hand-planted another 2,000 - 3,000 seeds, “Which really didn’t do anything because we didn’t get the rain for them.”
The next issue struck as the temperature soared well into the 30s for an extended period of time, leaving the pumpkins without pollination. Schwabe said they have harvested about a third of the pumpkins than they normally do.
That’s due in part to the cool, damp fall that followed the hot, dry summer – which threw another wrench into the works.
“We haven’t been able to get everything off, because some spots are just so wet,” said Schwabe. “You can’t even get off the tractor to lift a pumpkin into bin because it’s so wet.”
In Winnipeg, this September was the second-rainiest on record , with 153.1 mm falling in the city last month.
“It’s definitely very challenging with everything else that we’ve dealt with this season.”
Schwabe said it’s been more than five years since she can remember a really easy harvest, with ideal conditions. She’s hoping Manitoba is just in a cycle and if that’s the case -- that it’s over soon.
Aside from the weather playing a role in the quantity of crops, it’s also a factor in how many visitors are coming out to Schwabe Pumpkins.
“Last Saturday we had around 500 people out that day, and the Sunday, when it was raining, we had about 29,” said Schwabe. “The weather determines how things are going to go, so it definitely affects us.”