Pumpkin dearth hits US

A combination of heavy rain early in the year and a dry summer has left slimmer pickings this fall in pumpkin patches across Michigan, one of the nation's largest pumpkin suppliers.

Bernard Zandstra ofMichigan State University said there is a shortage nationwide as well, which may mean higher prices for pumpkins.

In Michigan, Mr. Zandstra said pumpkins could sell wholesale for more than 10 cents a pound this year, compared with 5 cents a pound in an average year.

"It's going to be a terrible year for pumpkins," said Paul Forte, owner of Harvest Time Farm Market in Oxford Township. "They're going to be much smaller than normal, and the yield is going to be way down."

Mr. Forte increased his pumpkin price from 30 cents to 35 cents a pound this year, which would be $6 to $12 for a nice-size carving pumpkin. Some retailers are selling them for as much as 39 cents or 45 cents a pound, he said.

The top pumpkin-producing states in the country are Illinois, California, New York, and Pennsylvania.

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