Local pumpkin growers are reporting decent yields this season while others across the state were hurt by excessive rainfall earlier this year.
Belleville pumpkin grower Tom Range said his crop is good, but the wet conditions delayed his planting and affected his potential yield.
“It’s not a bad crop, but we have had better crops,” said Range, owner of Braeutigam Orchards in Belleville. “It’s basically because of the timing of the planting. We had a lot of wet weather when we planted.”
At Eckert’s in Belleville, company president Chris Eckert said the extra rain only helped their crop.
“I know there has been some news around the state that this is not a (good) crop,” Eckert said. “That’s not the case here. Here at our farm, it looks pretty good.”
Judging from the pumpkins growers that horticulturalist Elizabeth Wahle has talked to, this season is an average one for Illinois. Wahle, who works at the University of Illinois Extension office in Collinsville, said the heavy rainfall from earlier this year created some flooding and washed away some pumpkin crops in Northern Illinois while creating varying yields downstate. She also said the excess rain and moisture also subjected some Illinois crops to fungus and disease.
“I would say that the majority said they would consider this an average year,” Wahle said. “A few said this was a less-than-average year, but most of them are considering this an average year.”
Local growers also had mixed results at their pumpkin patches this season:
Where: 2765 Turkey Hill Lane south of Belleville
Open: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
The harvest: “We had a lot of wet weather when we planted, but we do have some nice pumpkins. We have some really good ones, small- to medium-sized pumpkins.”
Eckert’s Orchards and Eckert’s Country Store
Where: 951 S. Green Mount Road in Belleville. Also available at the Eckert’s Orchards in Millstadt and Grafton.
Open: Pumpkin picking from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. Pumpkins are also available in Eckert’s Country Store.
The harvest: “Our supply is plentiful,” said Eckerts Inc. President Chris Eckert. “The pumpkins are nice and big.”
Where: 473 Sand Prairie Lane in Pontoon Beach
Open: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily
The harvest: “We did pretty good,” said secretary Dottie Hilker. “We have a lot. We have a huge pick-your-own field.”
Where: 8132 Illinois 163 (four miles north of Millstadt)
Open: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday
The harvest: “It’s not going to be a very large crop,” said Nancy Scharf. “We do have some, but it’s a lot smaller, definitely, than it was last year.”