Author Jenny Shank wanted to fill up on pumpkins and pumpkin products for her family – after all, it’s the season. But when she searched her local Trader Joe’s in Boulder on October 24, there was only one can of pureed pumpkin, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin corn sticks or pumpkin waffles.
“I know some of these products are popular and are probably sold out every year, but it seemed a little early. It’s not even Halloween yet,” said Shank, who only managed to score a bag of pumpkin bagels, which she added was already consumed. “I asked an employee if they had any canned pumpkin and she said, ‘There is a shortage of pumpkins and that’s all the pumpkin items we need’.
Although Trader Joe’s did not respond to our request for comment, Shank is not the only one who feels pumpkin-free this fall. To Little man ice cream‘s annual pumpkin patch at LoHi, director of marketing Basha Cohen could not get her usual move from Stahley Farms in Sterling, Colorado.
“We had a hailstorm through the latter part of July and it took all the pumpkins, cantaloupe, sweet corn and watermelon,” says Randy Stahley, a school counselor who runs the farm as well as a daycare center with his wife. “The weather is always a problem, especially in the northeast [Colorado] and it is difficult to base one’s income on crops. ”
Stahley lost about five to six thousand pumpkins, and Little Man lost its main supplier. With Stahley’s help, Cohan was eventually able to pick up some from Pope Farms in Wiggins, Colorado, but she notes that there are nowhere near as many as years earlier, and they are almost sold out.
“We usually have a huge amount of pumpkin-chip ice cream, but this year it’s a kind of get-it-while-you-can situation,” Cohen adds.
While hail is a major factor in this year’s pumpkin shortage in Colorado, another factor also comes into play. “This was an intense insect year, perhaps because it was wet and there was a mild winter,” Stahley says, adding that he knows other farmers in his area have also lost a lot of pumpkins. “Even when it was dry, there were still disease problems, it’s a constant battle.”
Colorado is not the only place experiencing a pumpkin problem. Modern Farmer reports that bad weather and fungal outbreaks across the country have affected the number of pumpkins available, and in some cases have wiped out entire crops. Pandemic-related supply chain problems worldwide are also causing continued shortages. As winter approaches and the available pumpkins are harvested, do not be surprised if it is not easy to reach all your autumn pumpkin goals. And if you see cans of pumpkins while shopping, consider filling up, especially if you plan on having pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.