There will probably be enough pumpkins for Halloween this year, but that might not be the case for the canned pumpkin used in pies, come Thanksgiving, according to crop experts in Illinois, the country’s top pumpkin-producing state.
“I would not wait until Nov. 20,” University of Illinois professor Mohammad Babadoost said, referencing the Nov. 26 holiday. “I’d buy it whenever it comes to the store.”
Large canned-pumpkin manufacturer Libby says yields could be off by as much as a third this year in Illinois, where, according to the University of Illinois, 90 percent of the pumpkins grown in the United States are raised within a 90-mile radius of Peoria, Illinois.
Most pumpkins are processed into canned pumpkin and canned pie mix. The town of Morton, near Peoria in central Illinois, is the self-proclaimed Pumpkin Capital of the World. Morton is the location of a Libby’s® pumpkin processing plant owned by Nestlé Food Company, which cans more than 85 percent of the world’s pumpkin each year.
The U.S. pumpkin market is regarded as limited and seasonal. Pumpkins are grown primarily for processing with a small percentage grown for ornamental sales through you-pick farms, farmers’ markets and retail sales.
Next to Illinois, California is the second-largest pumpkin producer in the country. The list of crops affected by California’s ongoing drought is growing. This time it’s pumpkins. Lack of water is forcing many pumpkin growers to face the possibility of plowing over their pumpkin patches sooner than later.
So if you like and want good ole’ pumpkin pie for all the upcoming holidays, NOW is the time to pumpkin up!
National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), USDA, Vegetables Annual Summary
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