The Pumpkin Powerhouse: Illinois

October 26, 2023 by Riley Knott

Agriculture Facts

When you think of pumpkins, your mind might conjure up images of Halloween jack-o'-lanterns, Thanksgiving pies, or perhaps a steaming mug of pumpkin spice latte. But did you know that Illinois is the epicenter of pumpkin production, growing more pumpkins than anywhere else in the world?

The Heart of Pumpkin Production: Illinois

Illinois is a pumpkin powerhouse, producing nearly 40% of all the pumpkins grown in the United States. In 2021 alone, Illinois farmers harvested over 650 million pounds of pumpkins. This is a staggering number compared to the next closest state, Indiana, which produced just over 180 million pounds.


The Water Content Wonder

Pumpkins are fascinating not just for their versatility but also for their composition. A fun fact about these vibrant gourds is that they are 90% water. This high water content makes pumpkins not only a juicy treat but also relatively low in calories, making them a healthy choice for various culinary uses.


Morton, Illinois: The Canned Pumpkin Capital

Morton, Illinois, has earned the title of the "Pumpkin Capital of the World." Over 85% of the world's canned pumpkin is processed in this small town. When you open a can of pumpkin puree, chances are high that it originated from Morton, reflecting the town's critical role in the pumpkin industry.


The Peak Season for Pumpkin Sales

While pumpkins are available year-round, the majority of pumpkin-related sales—about 70%—occur between September and November. This period coincides with the fall harvest season and major holidays like Halloween and Thanksgiving, when pumpkin-based dishes and decorations are in high demand.


Celebrating Pumpkins: National Pumpkin Day

October 26th is National Pumpkin Day, a time to celebrate everything pumpkin. Whether you enjoy carving them, baking them into pies, or adding pumpkin spice to your coffee, this day is dedicated to appreciating the diverse uses and cultural significance of pumpkins.


A Journey Across the Atlantic

Pumpkins have an intriguing history that dates back to the time of Christopher Columbus. Columbus carried pumpkin seeds back to Europe, where they were initially used as animal feed. Over time, pumpkins found their way into European diets and agricultural practices, enriching the continent's food culture.



Illinois' dominance in pumpkin production is a testament to the state's agricultural prowess and the hard work of its farmers. From their high water content to their historical journey across the Atlantic, pumpkins are more than just a seasonal symbol; they are a vital part of our culinary and cultural heritage. So, as we approach National Pumpkin Day, let's take a moment to appreciate these incredible gourds and the role Illinois plays in bringing them to our tables.