Halloween is just around the corner, witch (see what we did there??) means pumpkins will be flying off of shelves. While you might be more accustomed to row crops such as corn and soybeans, pumpkins have proven to be a profitable mean of diversification for some farmers.
In 2018, five states produced more than 1 billion pounds of pumpkins—about 40% of total U.S. production, USDA reports. The No. 1 pumpkin-producing state—Illinois—produced twice as many pumpkins as the other four top-producing states, more than 500 million pounds.
This year’s weather did have an impact on pumpkin yields and planting, but Illinois and California are reporting significant-sized crops. Hot weather during summer months hurt pumpkin pollination, reducing pumpkin flowers and fruit.
About 62% of all U.S. pumpkin acres are contained in these 10 states. Pumpkins produced in these states are primarily for pies and other processed foods. Pumpkin production outside of these states is primarily for decorative or carving, according to USDA.
Prices for pumpkins fluctuates, primarily driven by demand. As Halloween approaches prices will likely inch higher. The first week of October 2019 pegged jack-o-lantern style pumpkins at $3.42 per pumpkin, up compared to the same time last year’s price of $3.32.
Pumpkins used for jack-o-lanterns and decoration bring in better prices than those used for food processing.
Like all things in agriculture, on-farm prices received is significantly less than that of retail. However, the average farm in Illinois produces 40,000 pounds per acre (predominantly for processing). From 2016 to 2018 the average price per 100 lbs. of pumpkins ranged from $16 to $20 on-farm. Illinois pumpkins used for processing received the lowest price range at $3 to $6 per 100 lbs.