HAMPSHIRE (AP) – This year’s pumpkin harvest is shaping up to pro-duce a bumper crop, according to Illinois farmers.
“It’s been a phenomenal crop this year,” said Wade Kuipers, whose family grows pumpkins on 25 acres in Maple Park.
This year’s good harvest can be credited in part to a wet spring and dry, late-summer weather, Kuipers told The (Elgin) Courier-News.
Illinois is the nation’s top pumpkin producer.
According to federal agriculture statistics, the state harvested almost a third of the nation’s total pumpkin acreage in 2012.
That yielded about 623 million pounds of pumpkins, which are technically a fruit.
Most of the pumpkins grown in Illinois are used for cooking and canning. But others are decorative.
Terry Goebbert’s family has been growing pumpkins and selling them in Hampshire and South Barrington since the 1950s. This year, the family planted 42 acres of pumpkins.
About 80 percent of this year’s crop includes decorative varieties, and the remaining 20 percent are pumpkins that are best used for canning and pies.
“The harvest has been wonderful,” Goebbert said. “It’s been one of our better years.”