Pumpkin shortage, high prices could haunt customers this Halloween

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO) – You might be alarmed by a pumpkin shortage this Halloween season. And you might be haunted by higher prices too. Marty Martinez has been buying pumpkins for Orchard Nursery in Lafayette for 25 years. This year, he says, is unlike any other.

“In some cases the prices have doubled. Especially for white specialties. They can be hard to find,” Martinez said.

Like many small businesses, they try to keep prices as low as possible for consumers. It started with last year’s pandemic and people not working on pumpkin farms.

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“A lot of the patches just went bankrupt. They gave up,” Martinez said.

Add to that the drought. It’s hit hard in the pumpkin capital, Half Moon Bay.

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“Due to the drought, a lot of farmers haven’t planted because of the water. We usually plant 10 acres. This year we only did half of it,” said Danny Lopes of Farmer John’s. Pumpkin Farm.

Lack of manpower where there aren’t enough workers to do the seasonal pumpkin-picking work makes this an exceptionally tricky year. And trucking them to other places is more difficult than usual, especially with the cancellation of the annual Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival.

Tony Cozzalino of Cozzalino Pumpkins said they were counting on a local community college baseball team and good friends to volunteer to help them out as there are no workers available to hire. He said it was “just enough to get through the harvest season”.

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