Mild summer benefits pumpkins, Christmas trees

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) – Intense heat and dry conditions the last two summers brought problems to those who grow pumpkins and Christmas trees, but the mild summer is bringing better growing conditions this year.

“I think they [Christmas trees] like the cooler weather, and we had plenty of moisture. We didn’t have any dry spells and the weather was cool,” said Cassens Tree Owner Daniel Cassens.

Wea Creek Orchard Manager Kevin Thompson agrees.

“Great weather all around. Good amount of rain, and we got lucky here,” Thompson said. “Some places were hit and miss with rain, and they’re a little dry. But overall, it’s been perfect here.”

Thompson said pumpkins required more attention last summer because of limited rain, especially at the end of the season. He said the pumpkin crop this year was low maintenance.

“Our pumpkins did OK last year because we spent a lot of time watering,” said Thompson. “We didn’t have to this year, so it’s been much easier overall.”

Thompson said Indiana apples will take a hit this year because of the extreme winter. He said the lack of bees is the main reason for the crop shortage.

“Cold from the winter killed off a lot of bees,” said Thompson. “So, we’re seeing reduced pollination.”

Other than a few obstacles with the apples, Thompson is still expecting a decent apple crop and looking ahead to a great pumpkin crop.

The mild summer is also benefiting Christmas trees around the region. Cassens said the drought in 2012 was devastating on the trees, but the last two summers helped turn things around.

“Considering how we had that severe drought a couple of years ago, and we didn’t even know these trees were going to be alive like the one behind me here,” said Cassens.

He has been growing trees for more than 25 years. Cassens said the weather last spring and summer has been ideal for the trees.

“Last spring was just excellent,” Cassens said. “I think we had some of the best growth that I’ve ever seen.”

Cassens said the only obstacle he is dealing with is the amount of weeds growing from the excess rain.

Otherwise, consumers can expect healthy Christmas trees and a promising pumpkin crop for the upcoming holiday season.

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