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September 19, 2021

Irene's washout means pumpkin prices set to soar: report

For those in Canada’s east, be prepared to dole out big bucks next month. For pumpkins.

Yes, as the damage wrought by last month’s Hurricane Irene continues to be leafed through, one unsuspected seasonal casualty has taken much of the storm’s brunt.

According to reports, the pumpkin, that symbol of October, was wiped out en masse by Irene’s torrential rains and flooding in much of the Northeast U.S. and Eastern Canada.

What’s that going to mean? Higher prices, for one, but also the need for the rest of Canada’s pumpkins to come to the rescue.

First, back to the storm. The rains of Irene, which may have been overblown but was, you know, still a hurricane, hammered much of North America’s east in August, you’ll remember.

*Bing: Check out pics of the world’s largest pumpkin

For one pumpkin farmer, those torrents washed away his entire crop, according to the Associated Press – about 15,000 to 20,000 pumpkins in all.

Extrapolate that over all the pumpkin farmers in the Northeast U.S. and Eastern Canada, and we’re talking shortage. By that same farmer’s estimation, wholesale pumpkin prices reached as high as $200 per bin after the storm, about twice the normal level.

What’s worse is that, for pumpkins not washed away by the storm, many of the gourds will develop fungus because of damp fields, which will prevent them from growing to normal size.

So, all in all, it’s simple economics. Higher demand means higher pumpkin prices for consumers. In a normal year, as an example, a normal pumpkin could sell for as much as $15 at a New York City supermarket. No one knows yet how much that may soar this year.

And, wouldn’t you know it, burned U.S. farmers are calling for Canadian pumpkin resources to help fill demand. 

Many farmers have called for the U.S. government to import pumpkins from north of the border so many locals, who rely on pumpkins not just for direct revenue but also as a source of tourism revenue for family day trips, don’t miss out on a key earning season ahead of Halloween.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...