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Rainfall prompts pumpkin problems

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Many of the pumpkins grown in the Tri-States are not the type used for canned pumpkins.

QUINCY, Ill (WGEM) -- Excessive rainfall across central Illinois could spell trouble for Autumn holiday treats, such as pumpkin pie.

This is because blight, specifically Phytophthora blight, has appeared over a month early in pumpkin patches in parts of the state. The blight normally shows up toward the end of August or early September. However, the increase in rainfall has caused it to appear early, potentially causing damage and loss to the plants.

This is of particular concern in Illinois due to the large role the state plays in pumpkin production.

Illinois provides more than 90% of the canned pumpkin to the rest of the United States. In 2019, Illinois farmers harvested almost twice as many pumpkin acres compared to any other top 10 state. This is according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Also per the USDA, nearly 80% of all pumpkins grown in Illinois are devoted to processing purposes.

For local farmers however, this is not as big of an issue.

Mike Roegge with Mill Creek Farm says farmers up North and East are worse off because of the topography and pumpkin types. He says many of the local pumpkins grown are more so the variety used to decorate for Halloween, and those are fairing decently well.

"Our pumpkins are not processing pumpkins, they're jack-o-lantern pumpkins. We don't have really flat soils like they do in the Peoria area where you're seeing those issues with the too much rain causing root rot. So we've not really witnessed any issues so far on our pumpkin crop, which we're thankful for," Roegge said.

He mentioned while the pumpkins, corn, and some other crops are okay locally, there have been some concerns over the tomato crop due to the abundance of rainfall and cloud cover.

He said he will be happy to see more sunshine and dry conditions in the coming weeks.

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Logan Williams

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