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This year's pumpkin crop mixed

  |   Oct. 14, 2011 at 7:24 PM
MORTON, Ill., Oct. 14 (UPI) -- This year's U.S. pumpkin crop is a good one for pies but not so stellar for Halloween jack-o'-lanterns, a crop expert says.

Illinois takes the blue ribbon for growing pumpkins with 12,000 acres devoted to the vegetable. In 2011 the state's hot, dry growing season was kind to the "food" pumpkins -- the pale, smooth-skinned squash bakers use in pies, the Peoria (Ill.) Journal Star reported Friday.

The growing season wasn't so kind to the ornamental jack-o'-lantern breed of pumpkin, said Mohammad Babadoost, University of Illinois Extension specialist in fruit and vegetables.

"While prospects are good for pumpkin pie, it's only been an average crop for the jack-o'-lantern variety this year. It's been mixed. Some farmers report good crops; others had miserable results," Babadoost said.

Nestle USA is the corporation that owns Libby and Libby is the company that owns 80 percent of the U.S. canned pumpkin market. Their processing plant is in Morton, Ill.

Libby spokeswoman Roz O'Hearn says she's happy meeting with this year's canned pumpkin supply meeting market demand, which wasn't always the case, the newspaper said.

"In 2009, we couldn't get the pumpkins out of the field. We were out of pumpkin 10 days before Thanksgiving," O'Hearn said, recalling wet conditions in central Illinois that made it all but impossible for farmers to harvest their crop.

"In 2010, the crop was pretty good but we had no cushion [canned pumpkin left over from the previous year]. When we started shipping, we found customers were stocking up like crazy.

"Right now, everything's going well."

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