Pumpkin lovers rejoice! After a shortage last year that threatened to leave many a porch unadorned at Halloween, and many a dessert plate void of pie at Thanksgiving -- pumpkin patches are back to full strength and providing a plentiful supply.
Last year’s crop was the smallest since 2000, just a measly 754 million pounds. The pumpkin harvest suffered as a result of heavy rainfall during critical early growing months when pumpkins require dry, cool conditions. Of that 754 million pounds, only 318 million pounds came from Illinois, the state that typically produces a whopping 90 percent of the pumpkin crop in the U.S.
This year the weather has been far more conducive to a prolific crop. "Mother Nature is on our side in 2016, and growing conditions have been favorable,” said Jim Ackerman, agriculture manager for a canning facility of Libby’s, which produces over 80 percent of the total canned pumpkin supply in the U.S. “In fact, we have received average to above average yields."
This is definitely true for at least one of Libby’s pumpkin farmers, Mark Berg. Berg was able to wrap up his 2016 harvest early with an average of 30 tons of pumpkin per acre of his 120-acre patch. This surpasses Berg’s usual average yield, about 25 tons of pumpkin per acre, and is about ten times the two to three pumpkins he was able to grow per acre in 2015.
Of course, the harvest isn’t over just yet, which means that there’s still time for weather to get in the way between now and November, according to University of Illinois plant pathologist Mohammad Babadoost. But if the season continues the way it’s been going, things are looking pretty good in terms of pumpkin. We're already making lists of recipes to "try" before Thanksgiving!
Watch how to make our favorite fall quick bread -- of course the star ingredient is pumpkin!