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No Drought for Basse's

Farm market has plenty of produce despite hot, dry summer, and owners say dry weather isn't bad for pumpkins

The news over the summer was grim to say the least, with reports that crops were being tilled under in July as powder-dry soil left nothing for corn to grow in.

However, rains in the later part of that month and cooler weather in August rebounded many other crops and in some cases saved the corn as well. Places like Muskego saw curled corn stalks flesh out again and if the height of the cut stalks for fall decorating at Basse's Country Delight are any indication, grow as tall as eight feet.

Tom Schaefer, who runs the farming operation at Basse's, said he felt the bad news that's been circulating was overdone to some extent.

"People have really been told the worst, but we're hoping they understand that not every farmer has been hit as hard, and if they're worried about a shortage of pumpkins or apples, they're not going to notice it too much here," he said.

Schaefer admitted the crop of apples, which grows on site in their own orchards, has seen a decrease of nearly half, however he told Muskego Patch that local customers wouldn't be affected by price or supply. Generally some of the crop is sold to wholesalers, but in a case where there's a shortage, they cut back on that part of the business to keep more product in the store.

In fact, a quick review of prices at Basse's reveals some of the lowest in the area, with McIntosh at $1 per pound, and other varieties at $1.29 to $1.49 per pound. Seconds are even less for people just looking to bake, at $0.50 per pound.

As for the all-important pumpkin picking season, Schaefer said c'mon in, there's plenty. Concerns that the hot summer may have ripened the gourds too soon  is another misconception, he said.

"People should understand that some produce actually likes a drier summer, and pumpkins are one of them. You don't want it too rainy, because that can cause rot, especially where the pumpkin is touching the ground," Schaefer explained.

"I have to say this has been one of our best years, the pumpkins are looking great, and there will be plenty to go around all through October for picking," he added.

A few tips: orange or green a pumpkin will keep for months, especially in cooler temps. Keep the pumpkin on a non-abrasive surface - gravel can puncture the skin - to maintain the perfect seal that nature provides. Resist the urge to carve the pumpkin until a few days before Halloween especially if the temperature is going to be above normal as predicted.

As October is around the corner, Basse's will be ready with a corn maze, apples pumpkins and other gourds for decorating, fresh apple cider as well as their gift shop with seasonal decorations. Market hours in October will be Tuesday - Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the market closed on Mondays.

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