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Pumpkin Virus in IL Doesn't Affect Supply

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By Sean Crawford, IL Public Radio

Springfield, ILL. – More Jack-O-Lanterns will be popping up as Halloween approaches. That's despite a virus that wiped out some of Illinois' pumpkin crop this year.

Some pumpkin growers in Illinois are harvesting what was a tough year. Illinois is the nation's pumpkin capital; more are produced in Illinois than any other state.

But a common virus struck plants earlier than normal in Chicago's western suburbs, nearly wiping out some crops. Tom Feltes grows and sells pumpkins at his farm in DuPage County. He estimates his yields dropped 80% this year. "It came and hit so early that it was the worst I've ever seen," Feltes said. "For us, it means we have to go to other places to find pumpkins. I've gone all the way to Pennsylvania to bring pumpkins back, and Indiana."

Crop specialists say the virus was helped by cool and moist weather this summer. Pumpkin crops in other parts of the state were unharmed; the supply of pumpkins for Halloween appears adequate.

"Eight out of ten years [pumpkin growers] have a good year," Feltes added. "This is one of those two out of ten where we got socked."

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