No Thanksgiving celebration is complete without a bite of pumpkin pie. But this year, the sweet, spiced treat may be in short supply. Record amounts of rain fell in the Midwest this summer, leading to a much smaller pumpkin harvest than usual.
The pumpkins that were affected by rain aren’t the same type you’d use to make jack-o’-lanterns at Halloween. These pumpkins are grown for canning, not carving. The majority of them are grown in Illinois—where pumpkin is the official state pie!
This year, Illinois had the wettest June in its history. A record-breaking 8.91 inches of rain fell that month, flooding fields and rotting the pumpkin crop. The rains also damaged corn and soybean crops in Illinois, but pumpkins took the hardest hit.
According to Libby’s, a brand that makes canned pumpkin pie filling, pumpkin yields were off by more than a third this year. Libby’s usually produces 80 percent of the canned pumpkin purchased in the U.S. This year, the company produced enough pumpkin to make about 45,000,000 8-inch pies. That sounds like a lot of pies, but it’s half as many as usual.
Luckily for pie-lovers, Roz O’Hearn, a spokesperson for Nestle (the company that owns Libby’s), thinks there will be just enough canned pumpkin to last through the fall holidays. But after the cans sell out, there won’t be more until next year’s harvest.
As O’Hearn told Bloomberg Business magazine, “Maybe that means you’ll have one slice instead of two.”