US pumpkin farmers report bumper crops

US pumpkin growers see a bumper crop this year and are reporting a surging interest in pumpkin patches from Americans seeking safe outdoor fun amid the pandemic.

Good growing weather in pumpkin production centers like Illinois and California has led to big, healthy crops. Farmers also say they are seeing greater retail sales, thanks to interest in baking and decorating. quoted Bryan Van Groningen, co-owner of a 1,400-acre pumpkin farm in Manteca, California, as saying: "Demand for pumpkins has been excellent, and all indications are there will be continued high demand. People have been locked down, but Halloween is centered around children and family and the harvest, so I think it will be a return to normal in some respects."

Some retailers are boosting their orders for pumpkins, said Van Groningen, vice president of crops and soils at Van Groningen & Sons. "It's a little early; we just had one round of harvest so far. We're still growing them out now for October," he said.

A good crop is ready for picking in Illinois, the state that produces the most pumpkins, according to the University of Illinois. Shoppers may find the healthy-size crops also make for good bargains, according to price data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The average price as of Friday was $5 per pumpkin, compared to a year ago at $5.47.

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