Pumpkins: Background & Statistics

Pumpkin production is widely dispersed throughout the United States, with crop conditions varying greatly by region. All States produce some pumpkins but in 2012, about half of pumpkin acres were grown in 6 States and about 80 percent were grown in 16 States (2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture, USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service). In 2016, Illinois remained the largest producer, harvesting about 2-4 times as many pumpkin acres as any of the other top States (Figure 1). Pumpkin acreage in New York has declined every year since 2012, while acreages in other States have less noticeable trends.

Note: From 2011 to 2015, NASS reported annual pumpkin data for the top six States. In 2016, NASS began reporting pumpkin data for the top 16 States. We report data for the top six States reported from 2011-2015 and three additional States in 2016, which each have more harvested acres than the lowest of the original six.

In 2016, farmers in the top 16 pumpkin-producing States harvested 1.1 billion pounds of pumpkins, implying about 1.4 billion pounds harvested altogether in the United States. Production increased 45 percent from 2015 largely due to a rebound in Illinois production. Illinois production, though highly variable, is six times the average of the other top eight pumpkin-producing States (Figure 2).

Note: In 2016, NASS began reporting annual pumpkin data for additional States. Data for all reported States can be viewed on QuickStats.

Yield varies between years, especially for Illinois and California (Figure 3). On average, Illinois, California, Texas, and North Carolina grow about 30,000 pounds per acre, while other reported states average about 15,000 pounds per acre.

Note: In 2016, NASS began reporting annual pumpkin data for additional States. Data for all reported States can be viewed on QuickStats.

The value of pumpkin production has been highly variable for Illinois, California, and New York (Figure 4). Illinois' production value recovered from a devastating year in 2015, but New York has seen production value drop every year since 2012. Compared to acreage, output, and yield, Illinois’ advantage over other top-producing States (in terms of production value) is slight because processing pumpkins typically grown in Illinois receive a lower price compared to fresh pumpkins grown elsewhere.

Note: In 2016, NASS began reporting annual pumpkin data for additional States. Data for all reported States can be viewed on QuickStats.

While all States see year-to-year changes in price, New York—where prices have declined every year since 2011, with the largest drops occurring in the last 2 years—has experienced the most stark trend (Figure 5). Illinois growers consistently receive the lowest price because the majority of their pumpkins are sold for processing.

Note: In 2016, NASS began reporting annual pumpkin data for additional States. Data for all reported States can be viewed on QuickStats.

Illinois harvests the largest share of pumpkin acreage among all States and an even larger share of processing acres. Almost 80 percent of pumpkin acres in Illinois are devoted to pie filling or other processing uses, compared to a little over 10 percent in Michigan (Figure 6).

Annual per capita use of fresh pumpkins averaged 4.5 pounds per person over 2011-16 (Figure 7). Reduced use in 2015 correspond to reductions in supply.

Initial reports for 2017 pumpkin production indicate a strong Midwest crop. However, some growers in New York and Pennsylvania were hit with cold, wet weather during harvest. Pumpkin supplies from most States are targeted toward the seasonal fresh market for ornamental uses and for home processing. Growers mainly produce jack-o'-lantern type pumpkins (Howden), but demand for specialty pumpkins—like Big Mac, Blue, Cinderella, Fairytale, and White Howden—continues to expand as consumers look for new and interesting varieties as shown in the first table below.

As of mid-October 2017, average advertised retail pumpkin prices were slightly down compared to the same period last year as shown in the second table below. While wholesale prices have been steady, advertised retail prices increased over the first 3 weeks of September before dropping in the fourth week.

(Wholesale and retail advertised prices will continue to be updated during the 2017 fall season as they become available.)

U.S. wholesale price for pumpkins, weekly average of all quoted markets (excluding organic) for the listed type in 36" bins, September-October 2017
Week, 2017 Howden
(Medium)
Howden
(Extra Large)
Pie
(Extra Large)
Big Mac
(Medium)
Blue
(Medium)
Cinderella
(Medium)
Fairytale
(Medium)
White Howden
(Medium)
September, 1st Week N/A $140 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
September, 2nd Week $142 $157 $285 $188 N/A N/A N/A N/A
September, 3rd Week $140 $166 $285 $188 N/A N/A N/A $170
September, 4th Week $167 $166 $285 $188 $200 $250 $250 $180
October, 1st Week $142 $161 $285 $188 $200 $250 $250 $250
October, 2nd Week $144 $155 $285 $188 $200 $250 $250 $250
October, 3rd Week $146 $159 $285 $188 $200 $250 $250 $250
Source: Market News, Terminal Market Report. USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
U.S. advertised retail prices per pumpkin, September-October 2016 and 2017
Date 2017 2016
September, 1st Week $4.15 $4.45
September, 2nd Week $4.32 $4.47
September, 3rd Week $4.51 $4.29
September, 4th Week $4.12 $4.21
October, 1st Week $4.38 $4.23
October, 2nd Week $4.12 $4.05
October, 3rd Week $3.89 $3.95
Source: Market News, Retail Report. USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).