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Morton pumpkin harvest impacted by constant rains

With all the rain the Heart of Illinois has received the past few weeks (and no end yet in sight), farmers in the pumpkin capital of the world are already eyeing a shortage.

John Ackerman at Ackerman Family Farms, LLC., for example, is constantly thinking about his pumpkin yield.

“I like to be a third planted by now, and I’d like to be looking into planting the next third almost immediately.”

There’s just one problem:

“I don’t have a single pumpkin seed in the ground yet.”

Ackerman, like many farmers, has had delay after delay in getting his crops planted – mostly due to the weather.

But for Morton, which reports to produce some 85% of the country’s pumpkin crop, not having a harvest hurts a lot more than just the farmer.

“At this point, it’s really hard to dry the soil out. I notice it has a kind of plastic texture to it,” explained Ackerman.

The Family Farm mostly grows ornamental pumpkins, the kind used for Halloween rather than eating.

But the story is similar for other farmers across the state who send their harvest to Libby’s.

“I know with the processing or canning pumpkins, you really like to get them in the ground now,” Ackerman explained. “After July, they’ll start to flower. They won’t have a big enough plant to support that, it’ll start to cut into yields.”

While it’s still too early to tell how yields will be impacted (because a dry July could give a growth-spurt and offset a late plant), fewer pumpkins will likely be pulled from Morton’s ground come Autumn.

Mason Dowling

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