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By Nancy Taylor

Times Staff Writer

Saturday, October 13, 1979

            It’s a frightening rumor to hear this time of year, especially if you’re a comic strip character named Linus and you’re waiting for the Great Pumpkin.

            This year, Linus, there may be a pumpkin paucity—not enough pumpkins out in the ol’ patch.

            One local grower says wet weather has put a real damper on the pumpkin population this year.  A couple others say their crops are fine.  But two more who aren’t growing pumpkins have heard the whispers in the autumn wind—there’s a shortage.

            “This year, we’ve got about three tons of pumpkins,” grower Bill Burkhart of Masonic Park Road said early this week.  Counting an average pumpkin at about 15 pounds, that would be 400 pumpkins.

            Lest pumpkin lovers count their pies before they’re baked, though, a word of caution; Burkhart had 25 tons of pumpkins last year.  This year has been a bust, as far as his pumpkin productivity goes.

            “There was too much rain when the plants were blooming, and they didn’t pollinate,” Burkhart said.  “And it’s been so wet lately, it’s hard to get into the fields.”

            “We generally wholesale the pumpkins, but this year we had so few we’ll retail them in the greenhouse.”

            “We’ve got plenty of pumpkins,” Dean Abicht of Abicht’s Market in Newport said.  “We didn’t lose many at all—not over 10 percent from the weather.  In fact, we’ve got twice as many this year.”

            “We’ve heard there’s a shortage,” said Mrs. Jerry Witten of the Witten Farm at Coal Run.  “But we didn’t hear it was because of the weather; we heard it was because a lot of people just aren’t growing them.  My husband didn’t grow any this year.”

            Mrs. Witten said her children had raised a couple of pumpkins for the county fair contest.  “We put them on display down at the market,” she said, “and we’ve had all kinds of offers to buy them—even though they’ve got our kids’ names carved in them.”

            At Lane’s Fruit Farm on Ohio 676, Hazel Lane said she didn’t think her husband, Eugene, was aware of any shortage.  “We have a nice supply,” she said.  “Ours turned out nice.  Our only problem is the groundhogs getting into them.”

            Bill Stacy of Stacy Farms said he didn’t grow pumpkins this year.  “It was too wet in July to get them planted,” he said.  “But I kinda suspected a shortage, from talking to the other growers around here.”

            The Keith Doak family on Newport Pike isn’t raising pumpkins, “but we heard there was a shortage,” Mrs. Doak said.

            What can local folks do, if there is a shortage?  Many of them certainly won’t want to depend on those plastic jack-o-lanterns do-jobbies.  They might find substitutes, but a cleverly carved eggplant or zucchini just doesn’t have the same kind of appeal.

            Maybe it’s time for America to sink their teeth into research for pumpkin preservation.  It may not sound attractive now, but it might be better to become a pumpkin-independent nation before we’re faced with pumpkin rationing, pumpkin imports—and those long lines of pumpkin-guzzlers that form at the dinner table at holiday time.