The shortage primarily affected Morton, Ill., which is responsible for growing most of the world’s pumpkins.
A majority of Morton’s pumpkins are sold to Libby’s Pumpkin, owned by Nestle and operated in town. Nestle’s plant, according to the Morton Pumpkin Festival Website, processes 85 percent of the world’s canned pumpkin used for baking.
Nereida Garcia, consumer services representative for Libby’s Pumpkin, said pumpkin fans shouldn’t worry about a shortage of cans on the shelves.
“Due to the critical rain that occurred during critical growing months, we are disappointed that our yield this season appeared to be less than we anticipated,” she said. “However, we expect to have enough to meet the needs of our consumers for all of their great fall and holiday Libby’s Pumpkins recipes.”
Milton Ganyard, owner of Upchurch Farm in Cary, said shortfalls of pumpkins for canning in Illinois are unlikely to affect North Carolina’s ornamental pumpkin sales. He said his farm experienced a record crop of 39,000 pumpkins.
“In our case, there’s no shortage,” he said. “We’ve got the best crop ever.”
But even Illinois’s ornamental pumpkins were threatened by the long rainy season.
“It was a very challenging growing season,” said John Ackerman, owner of Ackerman Farms in Morton, Ill. “Even though we came out of it in not too bad of a shape, I still feel like I lost maybe 20 or 25 percent of my usual production.”
Ackerman said his family-operated farm raises pumpkins for Libby’s Pumpkin plant in town, but it primarily sells ornamental pumpkins.
Because there was so much rain during late spring and early summer — the two planting seasons — Ackerman’s pumpkins were too wet.
“Pumpkin plants do not like to have wet feet,” he said. “They’re prone to diseases, and they also don’t set their fruit very well when they’re wet.”
Due to issues with earlier crops, Ackerman said his farm’s staggered planting is now delayed. He said he was still planting pumpkins July 4, which is the latest he has ever planted pumpkins.
He said buying wholesale pumpkins to compensate for losses and shorter harvest seasons can take money out of farmers’ pockets.
Ackerman said there are a lot of management and irrigation practices farmers can use to prevent a similar shortage in the future.
“I mean, it wasn’t a great crop at all, but we came out OK,” he said. “I know some fellow farmers who had some very, very bad luck with their pumpkins, and we feel sorry for them.”