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Agricultural Marketing Resource Center

Pumpkins


By Malinda Geisler, content specialist, Ag Marketing Resource Center, Iowa State University.

Profile revised October 2013 by Diane Huntrods, AgMRC, Iowa State University.


Overview
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.

In 2012, nearly 12.4 million cwt of pumpkins, up from 10.7 million cwt in 2011, were harvested from 47,800 acres. The top pumpkin production state was Illinois, followed by California, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Michigan.  (NASS 2013)

The average farm price for pumpkins in 2012 was $12 per cwt, up from $10.60 per cwt in 2011. The total value of the 2012 pumpkin crop was more than $148.9 million, up from $113.1 million the previous year.  (NASS 2013)

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. Processing pumpkins have a comparable size and shape of a watermelon and a lighter colored shell.

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.

Pumpkins can range in size from less than one pound to more than 1,000 pounds. Miniature-sized pumpkins weigh less than one pound and typically are used for decorative purposes. Pie pumpkins range in many sizes. The 5- to 10-pound pie pumpkin varieties are most often grown. Pumpkins in the 10- to 25-pound range are primarily used for jack-o-lanterns and can also be used for processing. Pumpkins above 25 pounds are called giant. Giant pumpkins typically range between 25 to 75 pounds in size.


Source
Vegetables Annual Summary, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), USDA.


Production

  • Commercial Production and Management of Pumpkins and Gourds, University of Georgia
  • Grading Manual for Canned Pumpkin and Canned Squash, Ag Marketing Service, 1957 - This document details how pumpkins are processed.
  • A Halloween Pumpkin Primer, The State Journal-Register, 2009 -  Illinois leads the United States in pumpkin production and processing.
  • A Halloween Tradition, AgSelect.com, 2001 -  This site provides a general overview of pumpkins, production and marketing.
  • Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Production, Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA), NCAT, 2010 - This document covers production, weed and pest management, harvesting and marketing.
  • Pumpkin Nook - This Web site calls itself the "Internet shrine and library for pumpkins." It includes information on growing, holiday ideas and educational material.
  • Pumpkin Production Guide, Natural Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service, 2003 - This 152-page guide covers the basics to cutting-edge research. The guide includes sample budgets and marketing ideas. It is available for purchase.
  • Pumpkins, Vegetables and Melons Outlook, Economic Research Service (ERS), USDA, 2007.
  • Pumpkins & More, University of Illinois - This site is completely devoted to pumpkins. It includes sections on growing, selection and uses, varieties and festival ideas.
  • Pumpkins and Squash, Vegetable Research and Information Center, University of California Cooperative Extension -  This resource site has links to summer and winter squash and pumpkin production.
  • Pumpkins and Winter Squash, Selecting, Preparing and Canning Vegetables, National Center for Home Food Preservation, University of Georgia, 2009. 
  • Pumpkins, Commercial Vegetable Production, Kansas State University - This document outlines commercial pumpkin production for Kansas. It includes production costs and direct marketing ideas.
  • Vegetables and Pulses, ERS, USDA - This government portal provides general information and statistics on the U.S. vegetable and melon industries.

 Businesses/Case Studies

  • Arata Pumpkin Farm, Half Moon Bay, California - This farm claims to be the oldest working pumpkin farm in San Mateo County. Pumpkins have been grown since 1932. The Arata farm specializes in hosting school groups and also distributes pumpkins nationwide.
  • Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm, Lockport, Illinois - Bengtson’s, a working pumpkin farm, offers a variety of activities for families, including a haunted and fun barn, pumpkin launcher and racing pigs.
  • Happy Apple Farm, Penrose, Colorado - This farm offers more than just apples. The you-pick pumpkin patch becomes haunted during October. The farm hosts Halloween activities that include each guest receiving a pumpkin, candy and a “death ride to lighted pumpkin field.”
  • Kathy's Pumpkin Patch, Donnellson, Iowa - The Pumpkin Patch is part of a third-generation crop farm located in southeast Iowa. The farm grows about 30 acres of pumpkins, squash and fall ornamentals and sells them at their roadside stand. Kathy's Pumpkin Patch also hosts fall activities and events through Halloween.
  • Milky Way Farm, Chester Springs, Pennsylvania - This family-owned and -operated dairy farm hosts a you-pick pumpkin patch during October. About 25,000 pumpkins are grown on 10 acres.
  • Nordic Ridge Gardens, Calumet, Minnesota - This former dairy farm promotes educational school field trips during September and October. In addition to thousands of pumpkins, the farm raises squash, gourds and strawberries. 
  • Swan Pumpkin Farm, Franksville, Wisconsin - This farm in Racine County features many activities and tours during harvest and Halloween, such as pumpkin bowling, a corn maze and a haunted house.
  • Walters' Pumpkin Patch, Burns, Kansas - This pumpkin patch started out as a farming and ranching business for Carroll and Becky Walters. In 1998, the Walters decided to grow pumpkins as a business, and Walters' Pumpkin Patch began to take shape.


Links checked July 2012.

 

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