California growers expect a normal pumpkin crop, but supplies from the East Coast and Texas could be down because of extreme weather.

Temperatures did not get too high this summer in fields harvested by Van Groningen & Sons Inc., Manteca, Calif., said Ryan Van Groningen, sales manager.

As a result, the company is expecting normal to above-normal volumes and quality.

“It’s still hard to tell about yields, but the fields look good, the vines are good,” Van Groningen said Aug. 31.

Van Groningen & Sons began shipping in a light way Aug. 29. Volume shipments are expected by the week of Sept. 12 or Sept. 19.

Heat took its toll on the pumpkin crop marketed by Turek Farms, King Ferry, N.Y., said Jason Turek, partner.

“About half of the late-planted crop looks fairly nice, another half is on the small side,” he said. “It’s just one of those years where you can’t do anything.”

Some later fruit, Turek added, may not make it to harvest.

“A lot of fruit set, but then shriveled and fell off.”

Meanwhile, some growers east of Turek Farms, in the Connecticut River Valley, suffered flood damage from Hurricane Irene, Turek said. Some growers to the west, however, were faring better than Turek Farms, he said.

In Texas, extreme drought and heat is taking its toll on the crop marketed by Jackson Melons Inc., Henderson, Texas, said Kevin Green, salesman.

“The drought’s really whooping it, and when it’s so hot, they don’t pollinate well,” Green said. “The vines are not taking the heat well.”

Green said Jackson Melons will be lucky to have half a crop this year, and fruit will likely be on the small side. Harvest should begin about Sept. 10-14, Green said.  

Problems in other growing areas won’t necessarily mean an influx of California product, Van Groningen said. With freight costs so high, many retailers won’t be willing to mark pumpkins up proportionately.

“A pumpkin that was $3 or $4 is now $8 or $9,” he said. “Some would almost rather go without them.”

Demand could, however, increase closer to home, Van Groningen said. Western states that normally sourced from Texas could turn to California this season.

About 75% of Van Groningen & Sons’s pumpkins are sold on contract by mid-summer, Van Groningen said. Prices on the other 25%, however, could fluctuate because of growing problems elsewhere in the U.S., he said.

On Aug. 30, the  U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a price of $350 for 24-inch bins of large Cinderella pumpkins from Virginia sold on the Baltimore terminal market, up from $300 last year at the same time.