This year’s pumpkin crop is the best in the last two decades. That means there will be plenty of jack-o-lanterns for Halloween and lots of pie filling for Thanksgiving.
When the pumpkin crop in Illinois is big that means the whole nation can celebrate fall says Mohammad Babadoost from the Univeristy of Illinois, “We are number one in both of them, jack-o-lantern and processing pumpkins. Far, far ahead of any other state.”
More than 90% of the pumpkin pie filling sold in the United States comes from two processing plants located near Peoria, Illinois. This year the pumpkins feeding into those plants are yielding a record breaking 27 tons per acre. The average is about 23. This is pretty amazing given that a plant disease nearly wiped out the whole industry in the state a couple of decades ago.
Babadoost is naturally proud of his University of Illinois work to salvage the industry from the disease and he continues to work with farmers today to provide them crop production and protection advice. He says pumpkins are a high value crop that work well into a row crop rotation, “Very well. In fact pumpkin rotated with corn or even soybean is a very good crop rotation program.”
Even better, pumpkins can provide two sources of income should the farm want to diversity into a little agro-tourism.