Oh my gourd: Are pumpkins the latest product to fall victim to global supply chain shortages?
There's no need to panic, but your local pumpkin patch might be a bit less plentiful this year.
We've become accustomed to all sorts of product shortages throughout the pandemic and shipping delays are the latest concern du jour as we approach the holiday season. But the pandemic isn't necessarily to blame for potential pumpkin shortages.
According to Modern Farmer, a combination of "unfavorable weather conditions, shipping issues and a sprouting fungus" have hit some of the country's pumpkin farmers this year. The publication notes that California is one of the states that has been hit particularly hard, with farmers reporting "fewer varieties and smaller yields due to an ongoing drought." Some retailers in the state have sourced pumpkins from Oregon, which experienced a pretty fruitful growing season this year.
Other states like Kansas have also been hit by a challenging pumpkin season due to rainy and hot weather and retailers in the state's northeast region have turned to their neighbors in Nebraska to help beef up supplies.
Farmers in Illinois, one of the country's largest pumpkin suppliers, have also had to fend off a fungus called Phytophthora capsici that's been threatening their pumpkin patches. In a domino effect, the smaller yield this year might have an impact on the supply of canned pumpkin products.
Penny Bliler, co-owner of the Indian Knoll Pumpkin Patch, told Central Illinois' WAND-TV that the fungus has hit their crops pretty hard this year.
"I'd say we lost 25 to 30% of our crop," she said. "The fungus problem started easily in July and it was hard to get in to spray as much as we like to spray because it was still raining and then the heat on top of all the rain really hurt the crop."
Luckily, the patch planted extra pumpkins since they were anticipating the fungus this year, so there are still plenty of pumpkins to sell.
Of course, a nationwide worker shortage has also impacted the pumpkin industry and Modern Farmer reported that shipping company Pumpkin Patch Fundraisers Inc.'s trucker shortage has caused them to be "consistently behind by 40 to 50 loads."
The laws of supply and demand usually result in a higher product price, so it makes sense that pumpkins might cost a bit more than usual this year. USDA data from the second week of September shows that jack-o’-lantern pumpkins were 7% higher than they were last year.
Still, NBC News suggests that the reports of pumpkin shortages and price hikes are being overstated.
"There's not going to be a grand pumpkin shortage, but what we are facing is an OK year," Illinois Farm Bureau Executive Director Raghela Scavuzzo told NBC News. "We don't have an overabundance, but we do have enough pumpkins to get you by. You don't need to panic buy."