Pumpkin farmers say too much rain is just as bad as drought

Pumpkin farmers say too much rain is just as bad as drought

KAPOLEI, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For Aloun Farms in Leeward Oahu, too much rain is just as bad as not enough.

 "It hit us at a critical point in time when it's important for our flowers to be pollinated by bees," said Michael Moelu.

The heavy rains amounted to 10 inches in just a few months.  That's close to the average annual total for the area.  The result has been a pumpkin crop yield 50% lower than last year.

"A 50% reduction in any agricultural product is extremely devastating," said Jari Sugano of UH Manoa's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

Not only will the decreased supply lead to an increase in prices for the consumer, but the ripple effect could also be damaging for the farm too.

"It could mean a setback in terms of financial stability for the company or for that small family farm. It could mean that that farm will not be able to produce additional produce for several weeks or months," Sugano noted.

Aloun has already circled the wagons, telling its retailers and wholesalers they'll need to supply from the mainland, while focusing the available inventory on its own initiatives.

"The production this year is going to go towards our educational tours and festival weekends," said Moelu.

There are protections for farmers, like cooperatives or crop insurance.  However, those means aren't widely used.

"For the most part, I think growers take the blow from the damages and have to pick themselves back up and start all over again," said Sugano.

Fortunately for Aloun, they are hoping for a recovery of the pumpkin crop in mid-October, which could make for an dramatic comeback.

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