ELKHART COUNTY -- 2012 has not been a good year for farmers -- fruit farmers lost much of their crop in the spring and corn farmers lost a lot of their crop in the summer. But there is some good news: Pumpkins are looking great this fall.
Every year, Kercher's Sunrice Orchards in Goshen opens for apple picking. They sell hundreds of thousands of dollars in apples. This year, nearly their entire apple crop was wiped out. So they are counting on their pumpkin crop.
There are about 100,000 pumpkins in one of Kercher's pumpkin patches near Goshen. Workers will pick them and then lay them in rows before the pumpkins are loaded up and taken to area grocery stores.
"Typical pumpkin this year is going to be probably about this size," says Bill Kercher as he lifts a medium-sized pumpkin from the ground.
It is a good size -- and it is a good crop. While some pumpkin farms in the country are reporting smaller pumpkins, Bill says his pumpkins are actually larger this year.
"Pumpkins are wonderful," says Maureen Kercher, "Pumpkins look great this year."
It is a relief to Maureen Kercher. Her farm lost nearly the entire apple crop after buds were destroyed because the temperature in March heated up -- and then dipped below freezing again for several days.
"We've lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in apples this year. That is our biggest crop. Our most valuable crop is apples," says Maureen.
Will pumpkins make up for that?
"No," she says.
But Maureen says it will help. She says pumpkins don't need a lot of rain to flourish, so the hot, dry summer, didn't have an effect on the crop.
And now, pumpkin-picking preschool children have been arriving at the pumpkin patch. They've been coming by bus and carload for the last two weeks. And while there won't be many apples to chose from this year -- they will have plenty of pumpkins to pick from.
U-pick starts this weekend at Kercher's.