Pumpkin Crop Productions: Trends, Facts and Resources
for the Journalists and Farmers
This page provides a single source compilation of
various reports, graphs and data about pumpkin production to assist the
mass media (journalist, magazine and newspaper writers, tv/radio
reports) and farmers who may be considering growing pumpkins
commercially in analysis. If your looking for Halloween
information, see this page of current Halloween facts and statistics)
2002 Distribution of
The map below shows the 2002 distribution of pumpkin production in the
U.S. Note the concentration in the Great Lakes states, California and
Texas. The Mid-Atlantic follows closely.
in the Continental United States
In 2005, Illinois was number one among the top five
pumpkin producing states, with almost 4.97 million pounds, followed by
California with almost 1.6 million pounds, Ohio with 1.33 million
pounds, Pennsylvania with 1.31 million pounds and Michigan with 854
The top five states for value of pumpkin production in 2005 were Ohio
with $26.1 million, New York at $21.9 million, Pennsylvania at $16.2
million, Illinois with slightly over $16 million and California with
nearly $14.4 million
The next graph shows the total U.S. pumpkin crop
production annually for years 2001 through 2006. The source of
this data is the US Department of
Agriculture. ("Crops and Plants"->"Fruits"->"Pumpkins"->Search).
This graph shows that production was steady until 2004 when it increased
by 20% and has held steady since then.
Every year since 2004 there have been regional
difficulties. A frost, drought, flooding rains, pests or even deer
damaging crops. Areas affected by Katrina (August 25, 2005) reduce that
year's crop. Katrina wiped them out and many farms left the business not
to return. 2007 heavy rains in the Midwest and Texas affected
Availability of Pumpkins and Opportunity for Growers
As the large chain stores put more of the
national crop under contract, there is much less available in bulk or
wholesale for smaller operations; such as local festivals and pumpkin
fundraisers. Many churches and community organizations use pumpkin
patches and Christmas tree sales to help raise money for their
organizations. If they are forced to buy their pumpkins at retail
prices, it dramatically reduces their income. This creates an
opportunity for more farmers to get into the business. Add to this the
popularity of Halloween (it is actually a global phenomenon: it's become
very popular in Japan and France, for example), which has raised the
overall demand for pumpkins against a reduced supply.
Pumpkins do have the advantage of tolerating
most soil types and many climates. They just don't do well is very
sandy soils, under water or when pests (such as borers) are prevalent.
They also require a long growing season, and cannot tolerate any frost.
This makes them a bit less advantageous as a succession crop, except
preceding a winter green cover crop and following a Spring
(June-bearing) strawberry crop (or similar). Many pick-your-own farms
plant strawberries (notably "Chandler") in the Fall, open a pyo
strawberry field in April to June, then plow the strawberries under to
plant pumpkins for an October crop and pumpkin patch.
Commercial Pumpkin Growing Techniques
Squashes prefer a well-drained sandy loam with
high organic matter and a pH of 6.0 to 6.5. The Cooperative Extension
Service or a soil-testing laboratory can provide nutrient
recommendations based on soil tests. Conventional production
recommendations (when soil-test results are not available) are to apply
50 pounds N, 100 pounds P2O5, and 100 pounds K2O per acre before
planting, with two additional applications of 25 pounds N and 80 pounds
K per acre at 3 and 6 weeks. Should you wish to convert these standard
recommendations to organic fertilizer rates, visit the site from the
University of Georgia Circular 853
Convert an Inorganic Fertilizer Recommendation to an Organic One.
That is a useful point as more consumers are willing to pay for organic
crops, although, since large decorative pumpkins are rarely eaten, the
value of the organic proposition would be greatest in the edible
varieties and for those farmers opening their fields for direct consumer
pick-your-own pumpkin patch sales.
Pumpkins are warm-season annuals, preferring 75°
to 86° F daytime and 64° F nighttime temperatures. The seeds germinate
most rapidly when the soil temperature is 86° F. Winter squash and
pumpkins can be direct-seeded as soon as the soil temperature reaches
60° F. They need 90 to 120 frost-free days to reach maturity. Plastic
mulches of various colors can be used to increase the soil temperature
and speed early-season plant growth.
The worst pests are squash bugs, cucumber
beetles and squash vine borers. Of these, the worst is the borer: a fat,
1-inch-long, brown-headed white caterpillar, the larva of a ¾-inch-long
moth with dark front wings, clear hind wings, and a red abdomen. The
moths lay single eggs in late spring or early summer along the stem near
the base of a vine. The larvae emerge in about a week and bore holes to
enter the stem. Evidence of borer activity are the small hole and a pile
of tan or greenish sawdust (excrement) beneath the hole. The vine wilts
suddenly and dies.
For some organic solutions to these pests, see:
Other Pumpkin Growing Resources:
Free Guide from Penn State:
Production of Pumpkins
Varieties of Pumpkins
- Sugar - Excellent for baking
- JackO'Lantern - most common for carving
- WhiteLumina - unusual, medium-sized
Great for decoration
- Many varieties, used for decorations
Want to Grow Your Own Pumpkins?
Then see this page!
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