November 4, 2016
Pumpkin Shortage: Is Pumpkin Pie Endangered During The Pumpkin Peril Of 2015?

A pumpkin shortage could put a huge damper on both Halloween and Thanksgiving this year. Illinois crop experts predict that there may be enough pumpkins in existence to carve into jack-o'-lanterns for trick-or-treat, but there the probability of having enough canned pumpkin to make pies for Thanksgiving is highly debatable.

Libby, one of the largest canned pumpkin manufacturers in the United States, says the crop yield has fallen by approximately one-third this year, MSN reports. About 90 percent of the pumpkins grown in America come from an area within a 90-mile radius of Peoria, Illinois. Farmers are blaming the record rainfall, which occurred in June, for the pumpkin shortage.

"I would not wait until Nov. 20," University of Illinois professor Mohammad Babadoost said, "I'd buy it whenever it comes to the store."

Sugar, or pie pumpkins, are the variety of the crops used in Libby's canned pumpkin pie filling and 100 percent pure pumpkin puree. The pie pumpkins have more flesh that the larger pumpkins which are commonly carved up at Halloween, Fox News reports. Sugar pumpkins are also smaller and have a texture with is both sweeter and less grainy.

Libby's corporate and brand affairs director Roz O'Hearn said the central Illinois pumpkin processing, which has been operating since 1929, will have enough pumpkin for the Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays.

"Once we ship the remainder of the 2015 harvest, we'll have no more Libby's pumpkin to sell until harvest 2016," O-Hazen added.

Moran's Orchard in Neoga, Illinos, replanted pumpkin crops washed out after the heavy June rains. Jane Moran, the owner of the orchard, said it rained even more after the new batch of pumpkins. The business was forced to begin purchasing the orange orbs at auction twice a week.

"When you deal with Mother Nature, you just have to take it and go on," Moran added.

Illinois is not the only pumpkin-producing state to be facing a pumpkin shortage. Nebraska farmers also cited heavy rains during the early weeks of summer for a reduced crop yield, Omaha.com reports. Pumpkins are unable to grow in soil drenched with rain and too moist.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Assistant Kathleen Cue said pumpkin seeds must have warm soil, pollination from bees, and plenty of warm sunny days, along with rain, to germinate and flourish. The ongoing bee colony collapse disorder (CCD) has hampered growers of a multiple variety of crops.

As previously reported by the Inquisitr, honeybees provide pollination for 70 percent of the food we grow to eat each year. Honeybee populations have suffered substantial decline since 2005. An accepted cause of the massive number of bee deaths remains a hotly-debated topic. Some agricultural experts believe that the varroa mite has played a significant role in the massive amount of pollinator deaths, while some others are staunchly feel that chemical herbicides, such as neonicotinoids, are to blame.

Ironically, earlier this year Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a bill making pumpkin pie the office state pie. Other fun facts about pumpkins include the following.

Pumpkin Trivia

  • Pumpkins are typically orange but can also boast a yellow, white, green or red color.
  • Pumpkins are technically a fruit because they contain seeds, yet when used in cooking, the spheres are often referred to as a vegetable.
  • The name pumpkin comes from the Greek word pepon, meaning large melon, Science Kids notes.
  • Pumpkins typically weigh about 13 pounds. "Giant pumpkins" contests are held annually, with the winners sometimes weighing more than 1,000 pounds. A new pumpkin world record was set in 2010 when a enormous pumpkin tipped the scales at 1,810 pounds.
  • Pumpkin plants possess both male and female flowers.
  • More than 1 billion pounds of pumpkin are usually produced in the United States every year.
  • Pumpkin is baked, roasted, steamed, and boiled in a vast array of recipes. In some region, roasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin soup are annual favorites.
  • Pumpkin soup is popular, as are roasted pumpkin seeds.
What do you think about the great pumpkin shortage 2015?

[Image via Shutterstock.com]