MarketMaker Helps Locals Find Local Pumpkins and Fall Foods

By: Contributor Last Updated: October 19, 2009

Pumpkin growers and retailers who need more pumpkins or have too many can use Indiana MarketMaker's market place, a buyers/sellers forum, to meet their needs. Consumers also can use the Web site, http://www.inmarketmaker.com, to locate U-pick pumpkin patches and farmers that have them for sale.

"It's a place where people can connect," said Maria Marshall, Purdue agricultural economist and New Ventures Team chair. "It's not just pumpkins you can find there, but a whole host of produce from squash and gourds to chestnuts and gooseberries."

Pumpkins have a number of uses ranging from providing the family with a fun activity such picking them to carving or painting them. Pumpkins also are used for cooking or baking or for colorful fall decoration.

Individuals looking for pumpkins can go to Indiana MarketMaker and find a local farmer or retailer. Consumers in Illinois and Ohio also may go to the national MarketMaker Web site at http://national.marketmaker.uiuc.edu/ and find pumpkin growers in their area. There are 88 listed growers in Indiana, 314 listed growers in Illinois and 179 in Ohio.

There's also the buy and sell forum, where producers that have an abundance of pumpkins can sell them. For example, one Mississippi person listed that he or she is looking to buy small or pie pumpkins. Someone who has small or pie pumpkins for sale can contact the individual and make a sale.

A Purdue specialist says that although there has been some crop disease in the area, there is no shortage of pumpkins in Illinois, Indiana or Ohio.

"We've had more Phytophthora blight in pumpkins than normal because of the cool, rainy weather," said Dan Egel, Purdue Extension plant pathologist. "I almost never see it on watermelon, and this year I did. It has a huge host range, including pumpkins.

"This fungal disease favors water, and when it's wet the spores splash and they can swim in water, which helps it spread. Water-logged plants also promote the spread of Phytophthora blight."

Egel said he was in a pumpkin field in July and could smell rotting pumpkins and vines. The disease in this particular grower's field was serious, he said.

Most pumpkin growers were able to identify problems and diseases in time to make corrections, Egel said. Despite the weather and disease challenges, there are plenty of local pumpkins to go around, he said.

Indiana and Ohio are both in the top 10 pumpkin producing states, while Illinois is the No. 1 producing pumpkin state, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture's 2007 Census of Agriculture. Indiana was listed as having 454 pumpkin farms and 3,246 acres of pumpkins planted. Illinois had 502 pumpkin farms with 13,679 acres planted. Ohio had 1,091 farms with 5,092 pumpkin acres planted.