KAPAA — If you want a pumpkin, Kauai has them. Grows them, even. Plenty, too, despite the whacky weather.
“People didn’t know we could grow pumpkins,” said Earl Kashiwagi, owner and operator of Esaki’s Produce. He delivered 4,500 pounds of pumpkins to the Kauai Fall Festival on Sunday and still has more.
Harry Yamamoto, a Kapahi resident, grew a crop of pumpkins this year. The seed companies, including Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer and Syngenta Seeds, also joined the lineup of those growing pumpkins for Halloween.
“We had people growing, everywhere,” Kashiwagi said, after learning of the seed companies’ intent. “But the weather came into play.”
It was hot. Then it rained.
“Pumpkins were exploding in the field,” Kashiwagi said. “Harry lost 75 percent of his crop in the field, and salvaged the rest of the crop by bringing it to us. But with all the water the pumpkins absorbed from the rain, we lost a lot of what came here.”
But there’s still no pumpkin shortage on Kauai.
“Everybody can get a pumpkin for Halloween at either very reasonable prices, or at one of the free events,” Kashiwagi said.
Peter Wiederoder, Kauai site leader for Dow, said they got some 90-day pumpkins to plant, but no one accounted for the Westside heat, which forced the pumpkins to mature in a little more than 60 days.
“We had to harvest early, and store them for Halloween,” he said. “We had about a thousand pumpkins in storage.”
Despite the challenges, both natural and manmade, Kashiwagi said the wholesale produce business is fun.
“We took a hit for Halloween,” Kashiwagi said. “But this is just some first-year challenges. People should be glad to know we can grow pumpkins here in Hawaii, and on Kauai. It’s all for the kids.”