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In some parts, the Great Pumpkin will be late

Meanwhile, canned pumpkin is in short supply

By Karen Datko Sep 23, 2009 7:45PM

The jack-o'-lantern outlook in New England and parts of the Midwest looks a fright. A combination of wet and cold ruined a bunch of the pumpkin crop, and what's left in some fields is taking its own sweet time to ripen.


Not to worry, Halloween fans. The crop in most of the country's pumpkin patch looks fine, The Associated Press reports.


What's aggravating people is a shortage of canned pumpkin on store shelves.


"Holy smokes. Our stores have big empty shelves where the canned pumpkin should be. What's going on?" "CarolynF" wrote at


Uncooperative weather last growing season led to this year's shortage at some stores. "Pumpkin is harvested once a year beginning late August and into September, so for the last couple of months, there have been empty shelves in most retailers across the nation," Wal-Mart spokeswoman Caren Epstein told in Kansas City, Mo.


And this year's poor crop in waterlogged New England and some other locations may spell another shortage of the canned version next year. "Due to poor weather conditions once again this year, it's looking as if the crop is going to be the same as last year," Epstein said. "Not great news for pumpkin pie lovers."


Word to the wise: Buy a few extra cans if pumpkin pie is not just a seasonal treat in your home or you use it to help your dog's digestion.


Meanwhile jack-o'-lanterns should be available in adequate supply, even if they're not as big or as bright orange as you're used to.


"Every year something happens with the pumpkin crop, someplace," Gary Lucier, an agricultural economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, told the AP. "The problems crop up in the crop and people start saying we're going to be short of pumpkins and no one is going to get their pumpkins. In fact, everyone gets a pumpkin, but sometimes they pay more."


One Massachusetts farmer expects the price to reach 55 cents a pound where he lives, but others say they're reluctant to charge more. If prices go up, the economy means "nobody can afford them," Indiana grower Mark Kamman told USA Today.


How does the pumpkin crop fare where you live?

  • A pumpkin grower near Monroeville, N.J., told that his crop is a total loss because of excessive rainfall. The consolation is that the sweet potatoes and sweet corn are exceptional.
  • Pumpkin crops are healthy in places as far flung as California, Texas and Michigan, The Packer reports. Other states in the Midwest also will have good results unless a freeze comes early.

Can't wait for pumpkin pie and not inclined to make pumpkin pulp from scratch? "You can also substitute sweet potatoes, or yams, using a bit more sweetener in place of the pumpkin. Works out just as good, and you really cannot tell the difference with the added spices in it," "bethjoyce55" said at lowcarbfriends. Another reader said she just ordered a large supply of canned pumpkin online.


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