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Mohammad Babadoost Mohammad Babadoost
Associate Professor
Department of Crop Sciences
(217) 333-1523
babadoos@illinois.edu

Vegetable Production in Illinois: Current and Potential

At least 64 vegetable crops are commercially grown in Illinois. Illinois is the leading state in production of jack-o-lantern pumpkins, processing pumpkins, horseradish, and hydroponic peppers.

Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are grown in approximately 10,000 to 12,000 acres throughout Illinois. In each acre, 1,500 to 3,000 pumpkins are produced. Fruit yield of jack-o-lantern pumpkins ranges from 12 to more than 30 tons per acre. The price of pumpkins ranges from $0.10 per pound (wholesale) to $0.45 per pound (retail marketing). More than 90% of processed pumpkins produced in the United States (US) are grown in about 10,000 acres in Illinois. Fruit yield of processing pumpkins ranges from 20 to 37 tons per acre. Farm gate value of processing pumpkins is $18 per ton. Gross value of products of this crop can exceed $10,000 per acre. figure 1
Fig. 1. A processing pumpkin field at harvest in Illinois.
 
figure 2
Fig. 2. A horseradish field with a horseradish root.
Approximately 50% of horseradishes produced in the US are grown in Illinois. Root yield of horseradishe ranges from 5,000 to more than 10,000 pounds per acre. Farmgate value of this crop ranges from $0.35 to $0.80 per pound. Gross value of the horseradish products is usually more than $5,000 per acre.

Midwest Greenhouse, nestled on 10 acres in Maroa, Illinois, is the largest hydroponic bell pepper producing unit in the US. The expected yield in this 10-acre greenhouse is 2.5 million pound of red, yellow, and orange peppers. The price of peppers produced in this unit ranges from $1.2 to $1.8 per pound.

Illinois, with its approximately 13 millions populations, and diverse ethnic residents, is a huge market for vegetable crops. Soil and climatic diversity in Illinois provides suitable conditions for raising many different kinds of vegetables. Locallygrown vegetables have usually higher quality than long-distance-shipped produce. High cost of transportation and food safety consideration would limit importing produce from outside the state. Thus, production of both fresh market and processed vegetables is expected to increase in the future. For yearround supply of vegetable crops in Illinois, indoor production, particularly hyroponically-grown produce, is receiving more attention. figure 3
Fig. 3. The Midwest Greenhouse in Maroa, Illinois, with hydroponic bell pepper production.
 
Department of Crop Sciences
College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
University of Illinois Extension
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