The world of gourds is extensive. From pies to porches, the pumpkin is a staple to the autumn season here in the U.S. For the last 5,000 years, humans have grown pumpkins for food in Central America making them one of the oldest cultivated crops next to maize (corn), but Spain is the largest exporter at 31.3%. From its perch atop the Seasonal Fruit that Represents an Entire Season championship, 90% of all U.S. pumpkins are grown in Illinois and shipped domestically and internationally to prepare for fall around the world.
Pumpkins are the most ubiquitous symbol of autumn and Halloween, seemingly appearing out of nowhere as the first orange leaf flutters to the sidewalk in September. The famous pumpkin spice flavor infiltrates everything from donuts to deodorant, and roadside patches become orange explosions beckoning families to come, choose a fruit, take a photo on a hay bale, drink some apple cider and occasionally visit a petting zoo. A critical marker of time, we know that when the pumpkin disappears, it leaves behind the jingle of sleigh bells, sliding us into winter on a blanket of Black Friday sales and peppermint mochas.
Surprisingly, pumpkins are shipped chilled in refrigerated containers. They require a 55℉ temperature for storage after harvest to prevent overripening. It’s not a self-sustaining supply chain as the U.S. exports and imports vast quantities of pumpkins instead of just spreading them around the country. More than one-third of the pumpkins consumed in the U.S. are imported, and the U.S. imports more pumpkins than any other nation at $438.5 million (31.5%).
This year, in addition to the drought conditions that hit pumpkin patches hard, Plectosporium blight struck early and terrified growers. In layperson’s terms, there wasn’t enough rain to adequately water pumpkins, but there was enough to help fungus flourish. This year, the disruption in ocean freight has added a third layer of difficulty onto pumpkin shipments.
Don’t let the demand on freight and the peak season costs squash your dreams of shipping your ghoulish and gorgeous gourds this autumn. Here at CFI we protect your plump pumpkins from the field to whatever fall festivities they are destined for.