October 19, 2021

Illinois top pumpkin producer

USDA background and statistics

Pumpkin production is widely dispersed throughout the United States, with crop conditions varying greatly by region. All states produce some pumpkins, but in 2017, about 40% of pumpkin acres were harvested in the top six pumpkin producing states by weight, according to the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture, USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Every year USDA surveys top pumpkin producing states and publishes the data the following year. Anecdotal reports from growers and agricultural extension offices suggest strong pumpkin crops for Illinois and California in 2020.

In 2019, despite reduced acreage, Illinois maintained its leading position, still harvesting nearly twice as many pumpkin acres as any of the other top states at 10,900 acres. California, Indiana, Michigan, and Virginia averaged between 4,700 and 5,600 acres.

Illinois harvests the largest share of pumpkin acreage among all states and an even larger share of processing acres. Almost 80% of pumpkin acres in Illinois are devoted to pie filling or other processing uses, compared with about 3% 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.

Illinois is home to two major pumpkin processing plants: Nestle Libby’s in Morton and Seneca Foods in Princeville,

Yields vary substantially between states and between years within a state depending on pumpkin varieties and growing conditions. On average, Illinois grows about 40,000 pounds per acre (predominantly for processing), California and Texas grow about 30,000 pounds per acre, and Indiana, Michigan, and Virginia grow about 20,000 pounds per acre. Yield can vary each year from as much as 13,500 pounds in the case of Texas from 2017 to 2018 or as little as 1,500 pounds in the case of Indiana from 2018 to 2019.

In 2019, farmers in the top five pumpkin-producing states (not including Texas) harvested more than 800 million pounds of pumpkins. Combining their lead in acreage and yield, at 420 million pounds in 2019, Illinois produces three and a half times the amount of pumpkins as the second most productive state. In 2019, California and Indiana each produced about 120 million pounds of pumpkins, while Virginia produced about 90 million pounds, and Michigan produced about 80 million pounds. Among these states, Michigan and Virginia had the lowest yields in 2019.

From its high in 2017, the value of Illinois pumpkin production has generally decreased over the past three years due in large part to reduced acreage. Even with this decrease, Illinois moved from sixth in pumpkin value of production in 2018, to second in 2019 (not including Texas which did not have available data for 2019). In 2017 and 2018, Texas had the second highest value of pumpkin production behind Illinois and California, respectively. California emerged as the top pumpkin producer by value in 2018.