Hartsburg pumpkin crop up, bucks nat'l trend

Across the country, farmers have had a rough time trying to grow pumpkins this year. But that hasn't been the case for one mid-Missouri town.

A rainy spring saturated fields while cooler temperatures created breeding grounds for insects.

The Shryocks Callaway Farms posted a note on their Web site saying: "Due to extreme wet weather this spring we were unable to get a pumpkin crop planted in time." They are having other pumpkins brought in.

In Hartsburg - a tiny town known for their pumpkins - their crop yield is up. And just in time. The small town will swell this weekend as tens of thousands of pumpkin lovers converge for their 18th annual pumpkin festival.

"I don't think it's been too bad," said one pumpkin worker. "Low spots on the field aren't so good because of water."

This year's pumpkin crops are the best they've been in three years in Hartsburg, according to Jo Hackman who co-owns Hackman's Farm. This, despite the rest of the country's bad luck.

"We've gotten a lot of rain," said Jo Hackman, who co-owns Hackman's Farm. "I can't explain why this year our crop is as good as it is."

Hackman's Farm produces a variety of pumpkins. Not all of them made it though. About a quarter couldn't survive the wet weather.

"[We] had a little bit of rot in some of them because of how wet the year was," said Zach Diederich, a pumpkin worker. "Nice looking pumpkins but a little bit of rot underneath them."

Hackman said she's been mindful of the situation across the country and in Missouri. Because of that, she says she's kept a closer eye on this year's pumpkin crop to watch for any sign of fungus.

Hackman's not sure why their crop turned out OK. She thinks the reason has something to do with the town's "sandy soil" which she thinks absorbed most of the rain.

The Hartsburg Pumpkin Festival is this Saturday and Sunday from 9 to 5 p.m.