Halloween faces pumpkin shortage

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Thursday, October 5, 2006 Large amounts of rain and hot days mainly in New England and the Midwest this summer could be to blame for a mold which causes pumpkins to rot and farmers say that there could be a shortage of the jack-o-lanterns on porches in the United States this Halloween.

According to Purdue University Extension plant pathologist, Daniel Egel, at least 2 types of fungi are causing spots of mold to develop on areas of the pumpkin, causing them to cave in and decompose from the inside.

"We really didn't know until we went out and started picking around the 17th of September. It's as if they're rotting from the inside out," said Kent's Cucurbits in Indiana co-owner, Nina Kent.

Meigs Farm located in Lafayette, Indiana, which is operated by Perdue University, has been hit by the mold. Plant disease diagnostician, Karen Rane handled a pumpkin which she attempted to turn over onto an opposite which collapsed.

"It's sporadic across the state," said Rane.

Some farmer's markets are reporting only a 40% yield in some cases.

"My grower told me he's only getting about a 40 percent yield. It'll be bad for anybody that doesn't get one by about the 15th of October," said a produce worker who works at D&R Market located in Lafayette, Tad Ritchie.

People who are looking to buy pumpkins are told to pick pumpkins with the longer greener stems. A bright orange color is also a good indicator of a healthy pumpkin.