Sep 14, 2010 4:52 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Puny pumpkin harvest could lead to pricey pies

The frost is not yet on the pumpkins, but the fall prognosis is.

"It's down, no doubt about it," proclaims Minnesota pumpkin farmer Bud Eisinger.

The 87-years-old has been helping haul in wagon loads of pumpkins at Missy's Farmers Market in Lorreto, where owner Jeff Varney says his 28 acres of pumpkins will yield just half a crop this year.

The problem has been too much moisture, especially during the key month of June.

Some pumpkins rotted in the field.

In other cases, the bees needed for pollination just stayed in their hives.

"They like drier weather," said Varney, who has already been in contact with his crop insurance agent.

Similar problems in Illinois, the center of production for canning pumpkins, could leave pie filling in short supply, just like last year.

"It's going to be a marginal season," said Bill Shoemaker, senior research specialist for food crop agriculture at the University of Illinois. "We think there will be a crop, but I think the folks at the canneries are really concerned about whether or not it's going to be enough to meet demand. It's going to be tight."

That said, Roz O'Hearn of Libby's, the nation's largest producer of canned pumpkins, said, "We are in a much better situation than we were last year. We planted more acreage this year."

O'Hearn said 2010 looks better overall than 2009, when part of the crop went un-harvested because of muddy fields.




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