Local pumpkin farmers feel the effects of California’s drought, water regulations

KSEE24 News

CENTRAL VALLEY, Calif. (KSEE) – The hot and dry weather continues to impact farmers in the Central Valley, and as the fall season begins, pumpkin farmers are feeling the effects.

Bonnie Simonian has co-owned Simonian Farms for more than 50 years. Every October, she uses pumpkins from her own farm to open a pumpkin patch. While she says growing pumpkins in the Central Valley has always been difficult, this year’s drought made it even more challenging.

“This summer was one of our hottest summers. The San Joaquin Valley is great for farming, but sometimes when you have that extreme heat for a long period of time and you don’t have the rain, there’s a lack of water… That’s not a good recipe,” she said.

It’s a recipe that’s resulted in higher production costs. Pumpkin farmer Nick Rocca says nearly every aspect of farming has become more expensive.

“The years that my dad used to farm in are not the years that we are farming in now. The profit’s less because we’re having to pay more for the electricity to pump, and we’re regulated on how much we can pump,” he said.

Many pumpkin patches in California are raising their prices because of the increased cost of production. Simonian says that will not be the case at her patch, however, her business will see its effects.

“All are struggling in some way with prices going up and costs of absolutely everything you can think of. So, in the end, it just means you’re probably going to work a little harder and make a little less. That’s just the sad reality of it all,” she said.

Both farmers said the key is having other products and business endeavors to help offset the loss in profit. They also said while it was difficult, they still have a solid supply for this month’s celebrations.

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