Featured Produce News

U.S. Pumpkin Industry at a Glance

October 02, 2014

Pumpkin Harvest Techniques, Statistics and Reports  

2013 Crop Year, Pumpkins


$ 149.94 million



1.13 billion lbs

(512,870 MT)

Domestic Consumption/For Processing

1.11 billion lbs

(507,389 MT)


54.12 million lbs

(24,549 MT)


42.03 million lbs

(19,068 MT)

Bearing Acres



Data Source: NASS, USDA and FAS, USDA


U.S. Fresh Apple Trade

Click on Pumpkin Acres Harvested Graph to Enlarge.
Prepared by FPP using data from NASS, USDA


The Pumpkin Industry

Pumpkins trace their origins to Central America and the southern part of North America.  While pumpkins are generally edible and are used for a wide variety of nutritional purposes, they have a long tradition in the United States of being used decoratively, especially as jack o’ lanterns.  In 2013, approximately 1.13 billion pounds of pumpkins were produced in the United States.  Illinois is the largest producer of pumpkins in the U.S. by far.  Most pumpkins grown in the U.S. are located within a 90 mile radius of Peoria, Illinois and over 95% of pumpkins used for processing are grown here.  The most common variety of pumpkins is the pepo pumpkin, which is used for jack o’ lanterns and baking purposes.




2012/13 Major Players in Apple Market

Click on U.S. Pumpkin, Acres by State Graph to Enlarge.
Prepared by FPP using data from NASS, USDA

Planting Information

Pumpkins are a seasonal crop and grown primarily for use during the Halloween and Thanksgiving holiday months. When growing, pumpkins form deep root systems, but their roots concentrate near the surface to gather needed nutrients.  A temperate, warm climate, adequate water and loamy soil with good drainage provide ideal conditions for pumpkins.  The growing season for pumpkins is relatively long, usually lasting between 80-130 days.


2012/13 Major Players in Apple Market

Click on U.S. Pumpkin Harvest Value Graph to Enlarge.
Prepared by FPP using data from NASS, USDA

Harvesting Techniques

Once pumpkins are ready to be harvested, they are cut, leaving a few inches of dried stem attached, and collected.  In order to keep the pumpkins durable and extend their shelf life, they need to be cured by storing them in a relatively humid and hot environment (about 80° Fahrenheit).  This causes the skin of the pumpkin to harden, which helps the pumpkin retain its moisture.  After 7-10 days of curing, the pumpkins are stored in a cool, less humid environment.  If stored properly, pumpkins can keep for about three months to a year.


Pumpkin Varieties

Pumpkins come in a large number of different varieties, each one adding a distinct taste or color to the pumpkin palette.  They come in most colors, including orange, white, red, green, grey, blue, and yellow.  For food processing, the most popular pumpkins include the Sugar Pie pumpkin, the light-orange Delicata, and the Blue Hubbard.  These pumpkins tend to be smaller, having denser, more flavorful flesh.  The Delicata has a distinct, sweet tasting flesh, while the Blue Hubbard and Sugar Pie pumpkins have a long tradition as part of New England’s Fall meals.  For decorative and carving purposes, the Howden group of pumpkins is the commercial leader.  Pumpkins also come in a variety of sizes, including the tiny Baby Bear and Jack Be Little pumpkins, which are only about 2-5 inches in diameter.  On the other end of the size spectrum comes the Atlantic Giant, which usually weighs several hundred pounds, and is often used in giant pumpkin contests.  The heaviest pumpkin ever recorded was an Atlantic Giant weighing 2032 lbs.  Its grower, Tim Mathison, submitted this pumpkin at a California giant pumpkin competition on October 11, 2013.


More Information on Pumpkins

For more on pumpkins from the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, see here.

For a lot more facts and history about pumpkins, check out the University of Illinois’s website devoted to pumpkins.

For news about pumpkins, click here.

For a horticultural and business analysis of pumpkin farms, see this Pennsylvania State page.

To see a sampling of Pumpkin varieties, and their typical uses, click here.

To see creative and strange pumpkin carvings, check out this site.



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