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Southern Illinois

Research into hybrid pumpkins due to rising temperatures

Professor of vegetable science and breeding at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Alan Walters knows his pumpkins. The leading pumpkin producer in the United States, Illinois harvested 15,900 acres last year, more than twice as many acres as any other state. About 80% of the pumpkins grown in Illinois are processing pumpkins, mostly for consumption.

But climate change is a growing concern. “If temperatures keep rising, it’s going to be hard to grow pumpkins in southern Illinois,” Walters said. At the SIU Horticulture Research Center in Carbondale - where summer heat indexes can top 100 degrees – he is working on a solution. He believes he’s two or three years out from the development of several pumpkin varieties that he and his team have bred specifically to withstand higher temperatures.


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