Pumpkin shortage, high prices could haunt customers this Halloween

LAFAYETTE, Calif. (KGO) -- You might be alarmed by a shortage of pumpkins this Halloween season. And you might also be haunted by higher prices. 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 prices have doubled. Especially for the specialty white ones. They can be hard to come by," Martinez said.

Like a lot of small businesses, they are trying to keep prices as low as they can for consumers. It started out with the pandemic last year and people not working at the pumpkin farms.

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"A lot of the patches just went out of business. They gave up," Martinez said.

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

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"Because of the drought, a lot of farmers didn't plant because of water. We usually plant 10 acres. This year, we only did half of that," Danny Lopes with Farmer John's pumpkin Farm said.

The lack of labor where there are not enough workers to do the seasonal work of picking the pumpkins is making this an exceptionally tricky year. And trucking them to other places is more difficult than usual especially with the annual Half Moon Bay pumpkin festival cancelled.

Tony Cozzalino with Cozzalino Pumpkins said they have relied on a local community college baseball team and good friends to volunteer to help them out since there are no workers available to hire. He said it's "just enough to get through harvest season."

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