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Halloween nightmare: Pumpkins in short supply

Halloween is just over a month away, but there's a big pumpkin problem that could keep you from carving a Jack-o-Lantern.

As "Early Show" contributor Taryn Winter Brill reported on "The Early Show" from East Lyme, Conn. Tuesday, recent stormy weather has put pumpkin patches I peril, washing away almost the entire crop in the Northeast.

Scott Yankee Farms devotes 12 acres each year to growing pumpkins.

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But due to the rain from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, they've only been able to pick and sell pumpkins from two acres - translating into their worst pumpkin season in five years.

The shortage could be a big disappointment for kids: There's nothing that says fall like a pumpkin.

Whether you eat them, or carve them, pumpkins are autumn's finest bounty.

"You can already see the disease," in a pumpkin Brill was holding, Karen Scott told her. ""It rots from the inside out."

Scott's family has been growing pumpkins on their 130 acre farm in East Lyme for more than 75 years.

Last year at this time, she says, "It was gorgeous a sea of orange, from top to bottom. ... You couldn't walk from the top without stumbling over the pumpkins."

She says this is one of the worst harvests she's seen in a long time.

Of the torrential rain in the region, Scott said, "Normally, from January to December, we would have 42 inches, and we've had that much already - and we have three months to go."

That means the shortage comes just in time for the peak pumpkin holiday season.

"If someone is going to buy a pumpkin now, it is very likely that that pumpkin is not going to last till Halloween," Scott laments.

While farmers in the Northeast cope, other big pumpkin-producing states such as Illinois, Indiana, California, and Ohio are taking advantage of the shortages, forcing farmers like Karen to import more pumpkins.

"This year," she says, "I did not plan to buy any. And this year, we'll buy 40 tons. It will be about $15,000." That's three times what they usually spend.

Last year, they harvested 50 tons of pumpkins; this year, they'll be lucky if they see ten tons.

To say they've hit a rough patch is putting it mildly.

In the season of trick-or-treating, it's certainly a cruel trick by Mother Nature.

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