Drought serves up bumper crop of pumpkins

(CBS NEWS) McHENRY, Ill. -- Vernon Stade says this year's drought proved to be the worst ever for his corn crop in his 35 years of farming in the northern Illinois town of McHenry.

Days of triple-digit heat this summer, combined with no rain, cut his corn yield in half, and devastated farms in many parts of the country.

But that lack of rain that was so bad for Stade's corn crop this year actually provided the perfect conditions for another crop -- one that's ready for harvest just in time for Halloween: Pumpkins.

"Pumpkins are what we call a semi-arid crop," Stade explains. "They love dry weather. And that's because pumpkins have large leaf surfaces and they capture sunlight very effectively. ... What interferes with that is lots of moisture on the leaf surface, which causes bacteria to grow."

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But less rain this summer meant fewer bacteria -- and more pumpkins now, for customers to pick.

And plenty for the pumpkin-themed attractions Stade offers, such as a pumpkin cannon which, as its name implies, shoots pumpkins out like cannonballs.

"I'm very happy to have this large crop," Stade says. "People come out and they're just totally amazed."

In a tough year for farmers, pumpkins are a smashing success.

To see Elaine Quijano's report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.

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