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 six States produce most of them. In 2017, about 40 percent of pumpkin acres were harvested in the top six pumpkin producing States, measured by pumpkin weight (2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture, USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service [NASS]). Every year, USDA surveys top pumpkin-producing States and publishes the data the following year.

In 2021, Illinois maintained its leading position in pumpkin acreage, harvesting more than twice as many pumpkin acres as any of the other top States, at 15,900 acres. In the same year—California, Indiana, Michigan, Texas, and Virginia—each harvested between 4,500 and 7,400 acres (all pumpkin data for Texas in 2019 is unavailable from NASS to avoid disclosing data for individual operations. Data from other years show that Texas is an important pumpkin-producing State).

 Illinois harvests the largest share of pumpkin acreage among all States and an even larger share of processing acres. The most recent available data indicate that almost 80 percent of pumpkin acres in Illinois are devoted to varieties destined for pie filling or other processing uses, compared with about 3 percent in Michigan and even less in California and Virginia. This difference in the type of pumpkin most commonly grown in Illinois helps explain differences in yield and price between Illinois and other top States.

 Yields vary substantially among States and over years within a State, depending on pumpkin varieties and growing conditions. On average, Illinois grows about 40,000 pounds per acre (predominantly pie varieties for processing into products like pumpkin puree), California grows about 30,000 pounds per acre. Indiana and Texas each grow around 25,000 pounds per acre, while Michigan and Virginia each grow 17,500 pounds per acre. Yield can vary each year—from as much as 8,500 pounds in the case of Indiana from 2020 to 2021—to as little as 500 pounds in the case of Virginia from 2020 to 2021.

 In 2021, farmers in the top six pumpkin-producing States harvested more than 1 billion pounds of pumpkins combined. Leading in pumpkin acreage harvested and yield, Illinois produced 652 million pounds in 2021, more than the other 5 most productive States combined. Indiana produced 181 million and California 157 million—while Michigan, Texas, and Virginia each produced about 100 million pounds.

 Annual U.S. per capita availability of fresh pumpkins averaged about 5 pounds over 2019 to 2021, similar to levels during the past two decades. Per capita availability of fresh pumpkins was consistently at 4 to 5 pounds from 2000 to 2014. Reduced pumpkin availability in 2015 corresponded to a drop in domestic production, due in large part to the effects of poor weather on Illinois production. Availability rebounded in 2016 and was more than 6 pounds per person in 2021.

 All States see year-to-year changes in the price of pumpkins received by growers. In 2021, Texas continued to be the State that received the highest price for its pumpkins, at about $250 per 1,000 pounds. California, Indiana, Michigan, and Virginia all received prices within $34 of each other, averaging about $170 per 1,000 pounds each in 2021. Wet weather in Texas that led to lower yield and higher production cost, coupled with strong wholesale demand, contributed to the high prices in 2021. Illinois growers sell their pumpkins mainly for processing, and those types of pumpkins are priced lower than jack-o’-lantern pumpkins. This means that Illinois producers consistently received the lowest price at $35 per 1,000 pounds of pumpkins in 2021.

After producing the most dollar value of pumpkins in 2020 and even increasing the amount in 2021, Texas was surpassed by California and Indiana in 2021. California produced about $26.6 million of pumpkins in 2021, while Indiana and Texas each produced about $26.5 million. Other States increased production value in 2021 as well, with Illinois reaching $23.0 million and Michigan reaching $15.0 million. The only top State to see a decrease was Virginia, which dropped from $15.0 million in 2020 to $14.8 million in 2021.

Pumpkin supplies from most States are targeted toward the seasonal fresh market for ornamental uses and home processing. Pie varieties are predominantly sold in the processing market, although some are sold to consumers in retail outlets. Growers mainly produce jack-o'-lantern type pumpkins (Howden), but demand for specialty pumpkins—like White Howden, Cinderella, and Fairytale—continues to expand as consumers look for new and interesting varieties. Coming up on the 2022 Halloween holiday, wholesale pumpkin prices ranged from $220 per 24-inch bin for Howden pumpkins, to $268 for pie pumpkins, and up to $300 for specialty varieties like White Howden pumpkins. At $4.82 per jack-o’-lantern type pumpkin (Howden) in the fourth week of October 2022, retail pumpkin prices are down 17 percent from the same time last year.


Table 1. U.S. wholesale price for medium-size pumpkins, various types, $ per 24-inch bin, September to October 2022
Week, 2022 Pie Howden White Howden Cinderella Fairytale
September, 1st Week - - - - -
September, 2nd Week 268.00 160.00 300.00 250.00 250.00
September, 3rd Week 268.00 160.00 300.00 250.00 250.00
September, 4th Week 268.00 190.00 300.00 250.00 225.00
October, 1st Week 268.00 190.00 300.00 250.00 225.00
October, 2nd Week 268.00 190.00 300.00 250.00 225.00
October, 3rd Week 268.00 220.00 300.00 250.00 250.00
October, 4th Week 268.00 220.00 300.00 250.00 250.00

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 to October 2020 and 2021
Date 2022 2021
September, 1st Week 5.29 5.24
September, 2nd Week 5.82 5.17
September, 3rd Week C 5.33 5.06
September, 4th Week 4.96 4.71
October, 1st Week 5.19 4.83
October, 2nd Week 4.79 4.09
October, 3rd Week 5.07 4.95
October, 4th Week 4.82 5.80

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).