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OFF THE TICKER

A Mere Shell of Its Former Crop

September 25, 1993|Associated Press

Everyone knows Linus' Great Pumpkin is only a mirage, but the experts say even the real things are in short supply this fall.

Too much rain in some states and too little in others could mean fewer jack-o'-lanterns and pumpkin pies.

"Pumpkins have had a tough row to hoe," said Bill Whiteside of the University of Illinois.

He estimated that Illinois, a big-time pumpkin patch, might lose half its crop this season.

Charles E. Voigt, a vegetable specialist with the university, expects the shortage to drive prices up as much as 50% from the usual 15 or so cents a pound.

In California's Central Valley, grower Dan Van Groningen of Manteca, who raises about 350 acres of pumpkins, said his crop is down 25%.

"I think it's definitely going to bring the price up," he said. "We, of course, try to keep the price in line because we don't want to scare regular customers away."

A comforting Halloween thought.

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