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America’s ‘Great Pumpkin’ patchAmerica’s ‘Great Pumpkin’ patch

U.S. pumpkin growers grew 1.2 billion pounds in 2022.

Jennifer M. Latzke

October 31, 2023

2 Min Read
Pile of pumpkins
PUMPKIN PILE: The top six pumpkin-producing states grew 1.2 billion pounds of the festive gourds in 2022, according to the USDA Economic Research Service.Castort/Getty images

That jack-o’-lantern on your porch lighting the path for trick-or-treaters tonight, is also an economic boon for many U.S. farmers.

According to the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS), pumpkin production has trended upward from about 4 pounds per person in the early 2000s to the current 6 pounds per person in the 2020s.

The top six pumpkin-growing states produced 1.2 billion pounds in 2022, with Illinois harvesting a whopping 630 million pounds alone.

pumpkin production chart

Pumpkins are grown in every state, and while most are destined for your fall decorations, many are processed into puree which will be used in foods like pies, muffins or breads. In fact, 80% of Illinois pumpkin acres are devoted just to pumpkins for processing.

The jack-o’-lantern-type pumpkins, Howdens, are most familiar to consumers in stores, and the 2023 Halloween holiday season saw a U.S. average wholesale price for them at around $182 per 36-inch bin like you’d see in your supermarket. Pie pumpkins were bringing around $237 per 24-inch bin on the wholesale market. Meanwhile, specialty varieties like the more decorative White Howden, Fairytale, or Heirloom pumpkins were bringing up to $280 per bin, reported as of Oct. 24.

USDA ERS also reports that total value of pumpkin production has increased 25% from $107 million in 2020 to $134 million in 2022. Indiana produced the most pumpkins by value in 2022 at $30 million, with California a close second at $29 million.

That’s an economic driver that would make Linus’ "Great Pumpkin" from the "Peanuts" comic strip proud.

Learn more at ers.usda.gov/newsroom/pumpkins.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer M. Latzke

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Through all her travels, Jennifer M. Latzke knows that there is no place like Kansas.

Jennifer grew up on her family’s multigenerational registered Angus seedstock ranch and diversified farm just north of Woodbine, Kan., about 30 minutes south of Junction City on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. Rock Springs Ranch State 4-H Center was in her family’s backyard.

While at Kansas State University, Jennifer was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and a national officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a minor in animal science. In August 2000 Jennifer started her 20-year agricultural writing career in Dodge City, Kan., on the far southwest corner of the state.

She’s traveled across the U.S. writing on wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton, dairy and beef stories as well as breaking news and policy at the local, state and national levels. Latzke has traveled across Mexico and South America with the U.S. Wheat Associates and toured Vietnam as a member of KARL Class X. She’s traveled to Argentina as one of 10 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism. And she was part of a delegation of AAEA: The Ag Communicators Network members invited to Cuba.

Jennifer’s an award-winning writer, columnist, and podcaster, recognized by the Kansas Professional Communicators, Kansas Press Association, the National Federation of Presswomen, Livestock Publications Council, and AAEA. In 2019, Jennifer reached the pinnacle of achievements, earning the title of “Writer of Merit” from AAEA.

Trips and accolades are lovely, but Jennifer says she is happiest on the road talking to farmers and ranchers and gathering stories and photos to share with readers.

“It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be able to tell someone’s story and bring them recognition for their work on the land,” Jennifer says. “But my role is also evolving to help our more urban neighbors understand the issues our Kansas farmers face in bringing the food and fiber to their store shelves.”

She spends her time gardening, crafting, watching K-State football, and cheering on her nephews and niece in their 4-H projects. She can be found on Twitter at @Latzke.

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