Tuesday, October 13, 2009

OMG - Pumpkin Shortage!!!

Now THIS is really bad news.
I am serious.

Forget Inflation.
Forget Universal Healthcare.
Forget The Obama Peace Prize.
We have got a REAL crisis on our hands!

The Washington Times has reported
"It has been a weird weather situation," Mr. Richard said. "Usually we have no trouble at all getting brokers to bring us pumpkins. But Pennsylvania farmers are seeing yields down 50 to 70 percent. We have as many as we need to get through Columbus Day weekend, our busiest time, but we are concerned about what will happen next week. Gourds may be great for Mom and Dad, but not such a good souvenir for kids."

In Maryland, Todd Butler, manager of Butler's Orchard in Germantown, said his supply of small pumpkins may be down, but there should be enough to get through the fall. Butler's grows about 20 acres of pumpkins then brings in the rest from suppliers.

"Every year is different," he said. "We had a lot of damp weather this year."

The wet summer also has significantly affected the pumpkin supply in New England. A particularly rainy growing season in June and July caused some seedlings to wash away, some farmers say. Others say their crop is delayed, meaning pumpkins might not be big enough or orange enough by Halloween.

Dayton, Maine, grower Edward LeBlanc told the Associated Press that his 30 acres likely would have a subpar yield in 2009.

"If you saw our field, you'd say it looks beautiful," Mr. LeBlanc said. "You would say, 'Wow, look at all the pumpkins.' But we'd be saying, 'Wow, look at all the pumpkins that aren't going to quite make it,' or 'Look at all the pumpkins that aren't going to be large enough size to sell.' "

Some New England growers lost their entire crops, but others fared much better. Maine's harvest is expected to be off by about 50 percent, said Lauchlin Titus, president of the Maine Vegetable and Small Fruit Growers Association.

Nationwide, 92,955 acres were devoted to growing pumpkins in 2007, compared with 25,985 acres in 1982, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Another fall symbol, the pumpkin pie, may take a hit by Thanksgiving. Last year's weak harvest in Illinois, which leads the nation's pumpkin industry, has led to a shortage of canned pumpkin.

Shoppers reported that they could scarcely find canned pumpkin on the shelves of grocery stores in the past few months. Roz O'Hearn, a spokeswoman for Nestle SA, the parent company of canned-pumpkin leader Libby's, said help is on the way.

"If you looked [during] the last few months, canned pumpkin was not on the store shelves," Ms. O'Hearn said. "There were a lot of weather issues with last year's harvest which left us without a surplus."

Libby's has a farm with 5,000 acres of pumpkins in Morton, Ill.

"Harvest 2009 is still going on, and it was wet at the start, but we are seeing a turnaround," Ms. O'Hearn said. "I think America will be OK for Thanksgiving."

and this Iowa website has a similar report.

Less pumpkins means of course less pumpkins, but it also means higher prices on pumpkins and you may have to go home with a significantly smaller pumpkin then in previous years.

Canned pumpkin is in short supply.



David Aron said...

This underscores the importance of prices. When a good becomes more scarce, the price system rationally allocates it to those willing to pay the higher price.

So, how much do we want to spend to carve a pumpkin and let it rot on our front porch? Or, are there other areas where we want to spend our money instead? And how much do we want pumpkin pie as opposed to apple pie, or chocolate cake? We'll find out...

Now if only we could allow the price system to work for IMPORTANT things, like health care, education, transportation, etc...

Marmee said...

This is why you are not seeing canned pumkin in Costco.

On another note, I spoke to the manager at our local Albertsons yesterday because they were out of our favorite canned fruit, that is canned in pear juice instead of corn syrup. He said that Libby (brand) is not shipping to every store every week, that they are "rationing" because they don't have enough fruit to fill all the orders of all the stores. It is because of the water FIASCO in California! Let's save a fish, and starve our own people!

Janet said...

Well, thank God our family had the good sense (although I questioned it at the time) to plant enough pumpkins for us and all our family and friends. There is no shortage of pumpkins here in Idaho thanks to my late husband and our five year old son. We'll be eating pumpkin pie whenever we want :-) Really, how much effort does it take to grow your own pumpkins?

Anonymous said...

You're making fun, and I get that a pumpkin shortage might sound funny for someone whose only contact with pumpkins are jack-o-lanterns and holiday pumpkin pie, but there are those of us who eat locally, and for whom pumpkin happens to be a significant part of our food storage for the winter.

Thing is, it wasn't just pumpkins here in the northeast. It was also potatoes and tomatoes and many other important food crops.

And the other thing is that crop failures, no matter how insignificant you may think they are, will affect the entire pricing system across the board. Pumpkins may just be decorations for you, but for a lot of farmers up here in Maine, pumpkins feed their livestock during the winter, and without the livestock, there is less meat, fewer eggs, less milk, less cheese ....

It won't be funny when there's a lot less of everything else, now will it? So, laugh now about a loss of the pumpkin crop. We'll talk in the spring when your local grocery store is down to canned greened beans and whatever they could import from China.

Judy Aron said...

Anonymous - I wasn't making fun - honest. I think this is a serious thing - we are starting to see various food shortages here and there and it isn't a laughing matter at all.

I may have been light-hearted in my post - but I do think that this portends many shortages yet to come our way.

Janet said...

Sometimes when a situation is very grim humor is the only way to deal with it as well as spread your message. I come from an agricultural background and we've always maintained that the US needs to worry less about regulating agricultural industry and worry more about the day we become dependent on foreign food. I wish all the people making such a big hooplah about dependence on foreign oil would realize how much worse our lot in life will be if Americans can't produce enough food to feed our own people as well as the food we export to other countries. An old oriental proverb states, "When food is plentiful there are many problems. When food is scarce there is only one problem."