Pumpkins survive this year's wild weather - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Pumpkins survive this year's wild weather

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(09/24/12) - It's been a rough year for many Michigan farmers. The state's apple, cherry and peach crops were almost non-existent.    

But there is one bright spot in the growing season. Whether you like pumpkins for decoration, or to make pies, there are plenty to go around.

You'll find a steady stock of them at Porter's Orchard in Atlas Township.

You'll also find apples and cider, just like you'd see any other year. But those fall favorites did not come from the Porter family trees. "Still from Michigan, they're from the Grand Rapids area," explained owner Raymond Porter.

Porter says only about 10 percent of the state's apple crop survived the wild weather earlier this year. Typically he says the harvest would be around 23 million bushels. This year, it's more like 2.3 million bushels.

"It's the worst year I've ever seen," Porter said.

His trees did not contribute to that 10 percent harvest. "Warm weather we had in March teased them out and kind of made them think it was time to grow."

But it was far too early.

And while losing his entire apple crop was tough, there is one saving grace. "We plant the pumpkins when the weather's good, and depend on the Lord to do the rest of it," Porter said.

Porter remembers seeing the first signs of life in his pumpkin patch. "Made me feel really, really good. I thought that's just, that's awesome to see something growing out here."

But his troubles weren't over. Especially when the long, dry summer took hold.

"I needed to do something to make sure those pumpkins grew, so I have something here to sell," Porter explained.

The answer, a watering system. In a normal year, he wouldn't go through the trouble or expense. "They were starting to wilt and die until I put the irrigation in, and then that perked them right back up. They probably would have died out here if I hadn't of irrigated."

If you'd like to pick a pumpkin, Porter's says the picking season starts this weekend. And while you're out there, another crop that survived and thrived, is raspberries. You can pick those, right now.

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