Pumpkin prices spike this year

FRESNO, Calif.

Every fall kids fan out in search of the perfect pumpkin. Three-year old Maverick Zavala was looking for something small he could handle.

His dad Armando Zavala said he was, "Just bringing out my son out here to the pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin and get on the pony ride."

Despite a down economy, business has been good at the Pumpkin King patch in north Fresno. Back in the day, size was the only consideration when it came to picking a pumpkin. Today at the Pumpkin King pumpkin patch you have your choice of 16 different varieties. Whether they're orange, red, white or green, you're paying for size - from two bucks to a hundred bucks for a 300- pounder.

Pumpkin King patch owner Wayne Martin said weather issues around the country have caused prices to rise. He explained, "Across the plains states, particularly Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, tremendous drought. They have no pumpkins. And then on the eastern seaboard the floods and the hurricanes wiped out their crop."

At the Single Palm pumpkin patch near Biola, kids enjoyed a hayride and a corn maze for free. Business owner Marta Stencel said, "So if you take the hayride you can get on and look over the patch and you can see there are lots of pumpkins left."

You can cut the pumpkin right off the vine. All sizes, big or small, are five bucks here. For some kids dragging away the jack-o-lantern was a challenge. These pumpkins will light up the night come Halloween. But Martin said most people waste a good food source. He said, "I like mine baked like squash. My wife makes pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies."

Martin said just 1% of the pumpkins grown in the US are consumed as food. The rest he says are carved up and discarded after Halloween.

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