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Pumpkin shortage in U.S. brings us pumpkins from Canada

About 90 percent of pumpkins grown in the U.S. are grown in the state of Illinois, within a 90-mile radius of Peoria. But according to the Chicago Tribune, a record spring rainfall washed out 50 to 60 percent of the crop.

Libby, the country’s largest producer of canned pumpkin, says supplies may be off as much as one-third this year. Before anyone panics, the company has a bit of good news. Roz O’Hearn, Libby’s corporate and brand affairs director, says the company is “confident it will have enough pumpkin for autumn holidays.”

O’Hearn did add, “once we ship the remainder of the 2015 harvest, we’ll have no more Libby’s pumpkin to sell until harvest 2016.” Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation earlier this year making pumpkin pie the state pie of Illinois.

Of course, Illinois wasn’t the only state to be doused with heavy rains. Pumpkin farmers across the midwest suffered crop losses. But many of those farmers have already sought help from Canadian growers. “It has caused everybody to scramble and look to get them wherever they can,” said Darrell Theis, co-owner of Theis Farms in Missouri, according to the Huffington Post Canada.

Theis Farms had about 40,000 kilograms (88,185 pounds) of Canadian pumpkins delivered to them earlier this month. Theis told the Huff Post this wasn’t the first time he has relied on Canadian pumpkins. “We’re all in it together (and) every once in awhile we have to help each other out,” he said.

Philippe Quinn, owner of Quinn Farms near Montreal said, “I wouldn’t be surprised that there will be some loads coming in from Ontario, maybe a little bit from Quebec.” Like many Canadian pumpkin growers, Quinn has had a good season, according to the Star. Canadian farms grew nearly 65,000 tons of pumpkins last year, with almost half grown in Ontario, followed by Quebec and British Columbia.

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Let’s insert a word of caution before everyone runs to the store to stock up on canned pumpkin. If you are not buying a frozen pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, then buy only as many cans as you need. Too often, canned pumpkin get thrown out of donated to food banks because people buy too much.

As far as jack-o-lanterns go, buy a pumpkin at the local farmers market, or better yet, take the kids and go to a pumpkin patch and find your own perfect Halloween pumpkin. And don’t forget, if pumpkin really does run out, there is always sweet potato pie, which by the way, is delicious.

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