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October 31, 2017

Diversifying your Ag Operation with Pumpkin Crops

Get the inside scoop on what parts of the country are growing pumpkins, everybody’s favorite squash for Halloween.

Pumpkins are a major part of both autumn and Halloween to the point that they are symbolic of both the season and the holiday. Have you ever wondered which states are growing pumpkins for Halloween while carving a Jack O’Lantern or pondered where the pumpkin in your Thanksgiving pie comes from? Explore the answers and other facts about the darling of the Cucurbita genus, the pumpkin.

Top States for Growing Pumpkins

Growing pumpkins requires a particular set of environmental factors. With four different pumpkin species to choose from, there are a variety of needs and considerations for growing pumpkins. One of the main considerations is the absence of humidity. Pumpkins mature on the ground for so long that the moisture accompanying a humid environment will invite rot and disease. Because of this, pumpkins are grown in mainly northern states. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center (AgMRC), the top 6 states for growing pumpkins in the U.S. are Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.

The AgMRC recorded approximately 90,000 acres growing 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins in 2014. Roughly 15% of this planted pumpkin acreage is used for processed pumpkin products. According to the University of Illinois Extension, 95% of the pumpkins grown in the U.S. for processing are grown in Illinois.

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Pumpkin Variety Facts

All in all, there are four different species of pumpkins that farmers could be growing, with each variety having its own distinctive qualities. The four different species of pumpkins are:

  1. C. moschata. This group contains those pumpkins grown for processing, usually in the five to 10-pound range.
  2. C. mixta. This species is one that does well in the Southeast due to their adaptation to warm climates. They are prized for their flavor for pies.
  3. C. pepo. This group includes pumpkins for carving and decorating, as well as summer squash and zucchini.
  4. C. maxima. These pumpkins are giants, growing anywhere from 25 to 1,000 pounds.

Pumpkin sales are seasonal and limited, primarily occurring from October to January. However, the high nutritional value of pumpkins means they are moving into the mainstream like many other “holiday” fruits and vegetables as consumers look for new and innovative dishes. It’s likely demand for pumpkins will continue to rise.

Whether you’re a vegetable farmer looking to get into growing pumpkins and other squash or are wondering how our custom loan packages can help your ag operation grow, contact us to discuss your options with a knowledgeable team member.

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