90% of the nation’s pumpkins are grown in Illinois. Most people are used to seeing dozens of pumpkins out on display at local farms. However, some area residents are still surprised by that statistic.
Seven acres of pumpkins are at Lindberg Pumpkin Patch Farms in Caledonia. There are many more patches like it all across Illinois. Numbers from the Illinois Agricultural Statistics Service show that in 2012, Illinois was harvesting about 16,200 acres, which makes the state easily the top pumpkin producer in the country.
“I didn’t know that,” said Pumpkin Patch visitor Janet Skuire. “It’s pretty interesting.”
Pumpkin Patch visitor Leonard Humpal was also unaware of the state’s production.
“That’s kind of surprising,” said Humpal. “I thought maybe Iowa or [somewhere] else would be bigger. But, that’s pretty surprising.”
“You wouldn’t think of it as being the pumpkin state,” said Ryan Lindberg, the owner of the Lindberg Pumpkin Patch. “You look around here and see all the corn and soybeans, but it grows a lot of pumpkins too.”
Pumpkin seeding begins around May. Planters hope spring showers bring gourds of plenty. About two months later, they’re ready to be hand-picked, which is done in late September in time for the fall season.
“One guy drives the Bobcat machine,” said Lindberg. “We go out, find the ones that we want to bring in, pull them off the vines, put them in the basket, and we bring them in. We wash them and we set them out and display them.”
The Lindberg family has been doing this for their pumpkin patch and visitors every season for the past 15 years. It allows visitors to come and pick ones of all shapes and sizes, they’d want to take home to put on display.
According to the IASS, Illinois grew more than 278,000 tons in 2013.