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Nationwide pumpkin and Christmas tree shortage? Not here in northwest Ohio, farmers say

Some national reports found the less-than-ideal weather conditions led to a shortage of seasonal staples. That isn't the case at Stevens Gardens and Wheeler Farms.

LUCAS COUNTY, Ohio — The pandemic has created a lot of shortages. Things like toilet paper, cleaning supplies, masks and even employees. 

But the pandemic isn't to blame for the latest shortage. Nationwide, a shortage of pumpkins and Christmas trees is being reported, with less than ideal weather to blame.

Yet here in northwest Ohio, local family farms like Stevens Gardens in Monclova and Wheeler Farms in Whitehouse say their harvest was just fine. 

If anything, Stevens Gardens co-owner Debbie Stevens-Laux was soaked and less than thrilled the wet weather caused her to have not one single customer on Monday. She said this rain was not what she needed right now.

"We needed this rain in August when we were watering everything and everything was still growing. When we didn't get any," Stevens-Laux explained. "Now, everything is done growing and all we want is for people to come out and enjoy here."

But neither customer nor farm animal was interested in being outdoors.

While her parking lot was full of produce bins filled with apples piled high, pumpkins stacked in rows and corn stalks standing tall, it was all drenched in water.

Stevens-Laux said the one thing her farm lacked is people.

About six minutes down the road from Stevens Gardens, Wheeler Farms co-owners Martha and Duke Wheeler share similar thoughts about the weather. Their corn maze is underwater, but the corn and Christmas tree crops were just fine. 

"Corn did very well as a crop," Duke Wheeler said. The weather wasn't a problem there. 

For favorite fall activities, however... 

"It really messed up the corn maze," Wheeler lamented.

He added that he saw a carp swimming around in the maze because of how close Wheeler Farms is to Swan Creek. They've already canceled one corn maze weekend.

"Christmas trees, it was a great year. Probably one of the best years ever for growing. We had so much water, we planted 5,600 trees this year. I only saw about six or seven dead ones," Wheeler explained. 

He added that typically they lose between 10% to 15% of seedlings after planting, but not so much this year. Overall, the farm has around 60,000 to 70,000 trees of various heights, sizes and kinds, and this growing season has been the best for a while. 

"No, there was no real shortage of anything here," Stevens-Laux agreed. "For the pumpkin farmers, we're ready. This is our last shot this week, so we want to see everybody out."

Both farms are hoping to see customers and squeeze a few more nice days out of this fall season. 

Stevens Gardens is open all week, rain or shine, Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Over at Wheeler Farms, the famous corn maze is open until Oct. 30 on Fridays from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturdays noon to 10 p.m. and on Sundays from noon until 6 p.m.

The Whitehouse Christmas Tree Farm will be open from Nov. 24 until Dec. 12.

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