Water shortages are causing farmers’ pumpkin yields to wane, and some growers don’t think that their farms will persist much longer.
The Associated Press spoke with a number of pumpkin farmers to study the alarming trend in the crop’s deterioration and came to some troubling conclusions.
Despite summer rains in northeastern Colorado this year, farmer Alan Mazzotti said that his harvest still wasn’t up to snuff with previous years — because he’d planted when water was limited.
“By [the] time it started raining and the rain started to affect our reservoir supplies and everything else, it was just too late for this year,” he told AP.
“There’s no future after me,” Mazzotti said. “My boys won’t farm.”
The combination of record-breaking summer heat and reduced access to water, even in wetter years, is causing significant drops in the United States’ pumpkin industry output. Some pumpkin farmers’ yields dropped 20% or more from what they expected for this year.
Other growers reacted to inconsistent water supplies by cutting down the amount that they planted in the first place. “It’s one of the worst years we’ve had in several years,” Texan Mark Carroll told AP.
Even in more successful pumpkin farming states like Illinois, the cost of growing the rotund squashes has ballooned due to environmental concerns. Since groundwater is being steadily depleted, farmers are forced to pay massive energy bills to pump water onto their crops.
“Our real problem is groundwater … the lack of deep moisture and the lack of water in the aquifer,” said Steven Ness, a farmer in New Mexico.
There are, however, developments that could, at the very least, lessen the financial burden of irrigation. For example, solar-powered irrigation and agrivoltaics have shown massive potential to change farming, and California is covering irrigation canals with solar panels to fight droughts while creating clean energy.
Governments alongside agricultural workers must adopt creative practices like these in order to combat the dangerous overheating of our planet — which reduces water access — and help support farmers across America.
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