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Pumpkin pie gone? Canned pumpkin shortages expected over winter

Pumpkin patch
Courtesy of the Illinois Farm Bureau
Dickinson pumpkins, a type of the species cucurbita moschata are used in Libby's canned pumpkin.,

Hopefully you got your fill of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. It may be your last until next fall.

Canned pumpkin supplies are expected to run out after the holiday. This year’s yield was down by about half in Illinois, where 90 percent of the crop for canned pumpkin is produced.

"Once we ship the remainder of the 2015 harvest, we’ll have no more Libby’s pumpkin to sell until harvest 2016," Roz O’Hearn, a spokeswoman for the processed pumpkin company told the Associated Press.

Libby’s, which is owned by Nestlé, produces about 80 percent of canned pumpkin in the U.S. market. The company is headquartered in Morton, Ill., which is near Peoria, and gets most of its pumpkins from a 90-mile radius surrounding the town.

This year’s pumpkin crop was affected by a wetter than normal spring and early summer. Illinois State climatologist Jim Angel said the average rainfall in June was 9.4 inches, about five inches above average. It was even wetter around Morton, which received 11 inches in June and had higher than average rainfall in May and July, too.

"There was a grand total of 23.2 inches (or almost two feet) of precipitation in three months, 10.4 inches above average, and just about double the average precipitation," Angel said in a blog.

Ornamental pumpkins used for Halloween are grown in a much wider area and did not suffer nearly as much. Still, Braeutigam Orchards outside of Belleville saw about a 15 percent decline in this year’s pumpkin crop.

"Normally we plant pumpkins sometime between June first and July first," owner Tom Range said. "... This year it was really wet in the first part of June and we actually delayed our planting into July, which is later than we wanted to."

While they don’t sell to canneries, Braeutigam Orchards does produce some pumpkins for baking. Range said that had enough to fill the pumpkin pie orders their small bakery received for Thanksgiving.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.

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