RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A weekend trip to the local pumpkin patch has come to represent a hallmark of fall festivity. Local farmers continue to prepare for crowds of families, couples, kids all eager to celebrate the seasonal festivities.

As we head deeper into October, into the peak of pumpkin season, Stephen W. Gallmeyer Sr. — owner of Gallmeyer Farms — is reflecting on this tumultuous season.

People peruse Gallmeyer Farms Pumpkin Patch. Photo courtesy of Sierra Krug.

“It started off like gang busters,” Gallmeyer said. “Everything looked good right up until that time my plants were trying to fill and get the size they were supposed to get, so they struggled a bit, because it was so dry.”

Farmers across the state noted a particularly hot and dry summer, which didn’t bode well for the pumpkin crop. However, on the other side of town in Ashland, Jodi Roberts said Ashland Berry Farm managed to beat the dry season with a special, 58-mile long irrigation system.

“We are able to irrigate when we do not have that rain, which definitely helps us,” Roberts said.

Pumpkins from Ashland Berry Farm. Photo courtesy of Sierra Krug.

Turbulent weather wasn’t the only obstacle thrown at pumpkin season. Inflation also impacted some Central Virginian farmers.

“Fertilizer prices were up, herbicide prices were up, seed prices were up, everything is up,” Gallmeyer said.

While many of their crops were desperate for rain, pumpkin patch owners didn’t welcome Hurricane Ian’s brief stop in Central Virginia with open arms. The rough rains and heavy winds, forced Ashland Berry Farm to cancel their weekend haunts on Sept. 30.

“That was our opening weekend for haunts, so we ended up having to close our haunts,” Roberts said. “It definitely hit us.”

Despite the many forces challenging this year’s pumpkin patch fruition, pumpkin patch owners across the state agreed operating these fall activities is always a “gourd” time and well worth the hard work.