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 2017 about 40 percent of pumpkin acres were grown in five States: Illinois, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Texas, and California. (2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture, USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)). In 2018, in spite of reduced acreage, Illinois maintained its leading position, harvesting twice as many pumpkin acres as any of the other top States.

In 2018, farmers in the top five pumpkin-producing States harvested just over 1 billion pounds of pumpkins. As with acreage, Illinois leads other States with over 500 million pounds of pumpkins produced in 2018.

Yields vary substantially between States and between years within a State, depending on pumpkin varieties and growing conditions. The largest swing in yield occurred in Texas in 2017, when late rains impeded pumpkin harvest. Strong yields in Illinois in 2018 somewhat mitigated the effects of a nearly 40-percent reduction in pumpkin acres harvested. On average, Illinois grows about 40,000 pounds per acre (predominantly for processing), California and Texas grow about 30,000 pounds per acre, and Indiana and Pennsylvania grow about 15,000 pounds per acre.

The value of Illinois and Pennsylvania pumpkin production has decreased over the past 3 years. Although Illinois had the highest pumpkin production volume in 2018, they were fifth in terms of pumpkin production value. Processing pumpkins typically receive a lower price compared with that of fresh pumpkins.

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 with about 2 percent in Pennsylvania and even less in California.

All States experience year-to-year changes in the price of pumpkin received by growers. California, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Texas averaged between $16 to $20 per 100 pounds of pumpkins from 2016 to 2018. Illinois growers consistently received the lowest price because the majority of their pumpkins are sold for processing. The price received by growers in Illinois has decreased each year from $6 to $3 per 100 pounds of pumpkins between 2016 and 2018. The 2017 spike in Texas pumpkin prices coincided with late rains that made harvest challenging.

Annual U.S. per capita availability of fresh pumpkins averaged 5.6 pounds per person over 2014 to 2018. Per capita availability of fresh pumpkins was consistently 4 to 5 pounds per person from 2000 to 2014. Beginning in 2016, per capita availability of fresh pumpkins increased to more than 6 pounds. Reduced availability in 2015 corresponds to reduction in domestic production.

Initial reports for 2019 pumpkin production indicate an average year for Illinois and a healthy crop for California. Downy mildew, a pathogen which causes pumpkin leaves to die and reduces yields, was reported in several counties of Pennsylvania in September 2019. Additionally, pumpkin growers in Pennsylvania reported extended periods of hot weather during the summer, which reduced the pollination of pumpkin flowers.

Pumpkin supplies from most States are targeted toward the seasonal fresh market for ornamental uses and home processing. Growers mainly produce jack-o'-lantern type pumpkins (Howden), but demand for specialty pumpkins—like White Howden, Blue, Cinderella, and Fairytale—continues to expand as consumers look for new and interesting varieties. In the second week of September 2019, retail prices were up 40 percent from the same time last year, but dropped to with 6 percent of last year’s price the following week.

(Wholesale and retail advertised prices will be updated during the 2019 fall season as they become available.)

Table 1. U.S. wholesale price for pumpkins, $ per 24 inch bin, September 2019
Week, 2018 Pie
White Howden
September, 1st Week $225 NA NA Na $280 NA
September, 2nd Week $225 NA NA NA NA NA
September, 3rd Week $225 $225 $148 $185 $193 $193
September, 4th Week $225 $225 $160 $185 $193 $193

Note: Price is a weekly average of all quoted markets (excluding organic) for the listed type.

Source: Market News, Terminal Market Report. USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

Table 2: U.S. advertised retail prices, $ per Howden pumpkin, September 2019 and 2018
Date 2019 2018
September, 1st Week NA NA
September, 2nd Week $5.47 $3.89
September, 3rd Week $4.65 $4.39
September, 4th Week $4.40 $4.29

Note: Price is a weekly average of all quoted markets (excluding organic) for the listed type.

Source: Market News, Retail Report. USDA, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

Last updated: Friday, October 18, 2019

For more information, contact: Gregory Astill