(Oct. 3) Weather-related issues are putting a dent in pumpkin supplies, and demand remains sluggish due to warm weather nationwide, grower-shippers said.

Drought-like conditions in Michigan are expected to reduce volumes by about 40% from last year, said Joe Pirrone, president of Capac, Mich.-based Mike Pirrone Produce Inc.

Michigan produced 855,000 cwt. of pumpkins for fresh and processing markets in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

Illinois led the way last year with 4.9 million cwt., Ohio was second with 1.3 million cwt., Pennsylvania third with 1.2 million cwt. and California fourth with 1.2 million cwt.

Beginning about Oct. 15, the market should begin to see shortages, Pirrone said. Despite that, however, he didn’t expect a dramatic spike in prices.

“I think you’re going to see people instead of buying three to put on the porch, they’re buying one,” he said.

Ironically, given the dry conditions over most of the Upper Midwest pumpkin growing areas, some pockets of Michigan and Ohio suffered intense rains that have created fungus-related quality problems, Pirrone said.

As hard hit as Michigan is, Pirrone said the East Coast could be even shorter, also because of drought.

Jason Turek, a partner in Turek Farms, King Ferry, N.Y., said it was labor and demand, not weather, that was at the top of his mind in early October.

“It’s been so warm all over the country, people aren’t in a festive mood,” he said. “The crops are pretty well made, we just need to get them out of the field.”