It’s almost impossible to imagine Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, but rainy late spring and early summer weather in the nation’s top pumpkin-growing region could mean disaster for holiday menus this year.
As ThinkProgress' Natasha Geiling reports, 90 percent of the pumpkins in the U.S. are grown within 90 miles of Peoria, Illinois. Libby's Pumpkin, which supplies more than 85 percent of the world’s canned pumpkin, is headquartered in nearby Morton, Illinois, “the self-proclaimed pumpkin capital of the world.”
Downpours in the region between May and July this year—almost two feet of rain fell during that key growing period, according to Jim Angel, state climatologist—cut yields to half the normal amount. The poor yields also caused the 2015 harvest to end about a month early.
Libby’s anticipates having enough pumpkins until November but not beyond that, a corporate spokesperson told ThinkProgress. After the start of November, there will likely be no reserves to stock supermarket shelves.
That could leave Christmas shoppers in a bind. “If you want to have a Libby’s pumpkin [pie] for Thanksgiving or Christmas, get your pumpkin now,” Paul Bakus, president of corporate affairs at Nestlé (the owner of Libby's), said.
And as Marissa Fessenden for Smithsonian.com notes, while it’s often difficult to tie discrete weather events to climate change, Illinois has definitely been suffering from extreme weather. The state got a record-breaking amount of rain in June—9.42 inches, or more than twice the average for that month. “I firmly believe that the reason for this is because of climate change,” Bakus said.
The predicted shortage could follow the kale panic of 2015 in New York City and the brief but worrying sriracha shortage, while mirroring the more significant threats facing coffee, chocolate, and bananas. But don’t worry—your jack-o-lanterns and decorative gourds are still safe. For now.
[h/t Smithsonian.com, ThinkProgress]