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What is Halloween without pumpkins?  Residents of Shreveport may just find out this year due to a potential supply problem with our favorite fall gourd.

Why is the pumpkin supply in danger?

Believe it or not, the potential issue is Mother Nature herself.  According to the pumpkin harvest watchers at Patch.com, heavy rain and "Phytophthora blight" (defined by dictionary.com as "the rapid and extensive discoloration, wilting, and death of plant tissues.") have been reported across pumpkin patches across the Sportsman's Paradise. You can read more about it's specific effects on pumpkins in this study from from Rutgers University here, but it isn't pretty.  Here's what it looks like on oranges:

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

So, how many pumpkins are we talking about?

Here's the problem: We don't really know.  The issues affecting pumpkin supplies are nationwide.  According to Farm Week Now, it's already affected numbers in the #1 pumpkin growing state Illinois, where they've reportedly seen the infection pop up as early as June of this year.  90% of the world's canned pumpkin is produced there, and they are worried.

Some outbreaks later in the year are always affected, but farmers compensate by simply growing more to account for the loss.  The early signs of infection a worrisome because experts say this is likely a sign that it will spread further than expected, killing more pumpkins than pumpkin professionals planned on.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Why it means you may have a problem getting one in Shreveport

When it comes to pumpkin production - Louisiana is almost dead last.  We rank 48th in the nation when it comes to growing them for ourselves.  That means we depend on the states that produce more than they need.  States like Texas, for example (who clocks in at #7 for pumpkin producers), export tons of them every year.  If you've bought one here in the last few years, there's a good chance that's where it came from.  This year, the demand for those giant gourds will be higher than ever, so we may not get as much help from the Lone Star state as we're used to.

Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images

What can I do to make sure I get a Jack-O-Lantern for Halloween?

That's a tough one.  One you buy and carve now certainly won't last until October 31st, and with the uncertainty of how many pumpkins we will have available in the week leading up to Halloween - I see only 2 options.  1.  You can buy a fake one.  They come in many verities, both lit and pre-lit at pretty much every store - but if there's a shortage of real pumpkins, those will go fast.  2. You can try to buy one now while they are still plentiful and freeze it.  I can't vouch for this procedure, but it is explained in great detail on Six Dollar Family's how-to site here.  Good luck, and Happy Halloween!

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