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      Pumpkin prices pushing higher, hurting consumers

      The price of a well-known commodity is on the rise, and this time we're not talking about the cost of fuel.

      Pumpkins are c a rving out a slice in consumers' pocket books.

      At Bobby Lawson's roadside stand in Horry County, customers are not stopping in to buy the produce that he used to have a hard time keeping on his shelves.

      "They say it's too high," said Lawson. "They ain't buying them like they have. They'll just walk away."

      He's one of the few vendors along Highway 501 still selling pumpkins.

      The popular produce is rising in price because of a drought in areas that grow pumpkins.

      According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average wholesale price for jack-o'-lantern pumpkins is 4 percent higher this year than it was in 2011.

      Lawson has seen the price increase even more than that.

      "They're a lot higher than they were last year," he said. "Anywhere from a dollar and a half two dollars."

      Those dollars are then passed on to customers.

      "It's very shocking," said produce customer Bridget Bechard. "I'm used to the prices of pumpkins being two for five and then (they went) up to 5 dollars last year. To hear it's going up to seven dollars, it is very shocking."

      With the price up and the quantity down, she said she'll just get fewer pumpkins.

      "My kids won't get four pumpkins, being that I have four children, we'll probably just get two this year," she said.

      A lot of the pumpkins around our area are sent from all across the United States.

      Because of the state's hot summer months, it's very difficult to grow a pumpkin in South Carolina.

      "You can grow these (here), but before Halloween they all rot.," said Lawson. "I've tried it year after year."

      Lawson's pumpkins are sent from Virginia.

      "They are the highest they've ever been. Last year, we could sell those little pumpkins for two dollars. This year they cost you a $1.75 wholesale."

      But even with a lull in sales and an increase in price, Lawson plans to keep pushing his pumpkins.

      "As long as I mess with the produce stand, I'll mess with the pumpkins," said Lawson.