Pumpkins

Displays of fresh decorative pumpkins are bountiful in the central PA region, but stores are having a hard time right now ordering more canned pumpkin for the shelves. Reportedly, crops in top-producing states like Illinois are delayed this year, but there isn’t a shortage of the edible goods.

The baked goods shelves of local stores have been void of pumpkin anything lately, and the aunt of a local soon-to-be-bride said she couldn’t find canned pumpkin in north central Pennsylvania to make cookies for the upcoming wedding. But, there is reportedly not an overall shortage of pumpkin though area stores haven’t had much to offer.

“My understanding is that nationwide this is going to be one of the best pumpkin growing seasons ever,” said local farmer Bill Hoover of B&D Acres in Tyrone. However, central Pennsylvania doesn’t produce much of the pumpkin used for canning.

“A lot of the pumpkins grown for processing are grown in Illinois, Indiana, California, and Texas,” said Hoover.

A Sept. 22 Facebook post by a South Carolina resident showed a cart with at least 17 cans of pumpkin, claiming there is a shortage in Pennsylvania where her mother-in-law resides. A resident from Murrysville, PA said she had visited 10 stores in two days and couldn’t find pumpkin, and another in Saltsburg, PA said she called five stores that had none.

A recent article at Allrecipes also indicated there is not a shortage of pumpkins, according to Raghela Scavuzzo, associate director of food systems development with the Illinois Farm Bureau. Due to a rain delay at the typical pumpkin-planting time, there will be a later harvest.

“It is a very normal year and the supply is absolutely normal,” Scavuzzo said.

Reportedly, 90 percent of the nation’s canned pumpkin comes from Morton, Illinois — the central part of the state — and farmers there agree there is no pumpkin shortage.

According to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, 68,200 acres of pumpkins were planted in 2019 across the United States, with an estimated value of $180.2 million in total pumpkin production.

It all seems to boil down to the weather delaying the crops, and pumpkin is expected to be back on store shelves in the next few weeks, according to several sources.

Kimmy Kline, manager and secretary at Village Pantry in Tyrone, said as of right now, the store has some pumpkin on the shelves and hasn’t experienced any shortage. However, they do typically stock up before this time of year with the expectation to run out with baking season upon us. During conversation, Kline checked with two of the store’s suppliers and noted the No. 10 cans (the large sized cans) are out through its main supplier and won’t be back in stock until October. A second supplier is out of the smaller 15-ounce cans.

“It does look as if several places are currently out of stock,” Kline said. But it looks like it will be just a bit of a wait for bakers and cooks to see more on the shelves. The manager at Tyrone Save-A-Lot was unavailable for comment.

In our area at least, fresh sugar pumpkins and others often used for fall decorating might be smaller than normal, Hoover noted. “Central PA had a hot, dry summer compared to many areas of the country,” he said. “I think other parts of the country had better growing conditions. It seems that central PA got the short end of the stick when it comes to rainfall this year and we had too much heat.”

There is certainly no shortage of fresh and decorative pumpkins in the local area, with the local greenhouses, fruit farms, garden centers, farmers’ markets, and the Amish having bountiful displays.

Adeena Harbst can be reached at aharbst@thedailyherald.net.

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