Halloween drums up nearly $7 billion in business every year in America. While that doesn’t manage to crack the top five holidays we spend our money on (Halloween is even surpassed by the Super Bowl), it does provide a lead-in to the holiday spending season that most retailers look forward to.
More and more, it seems like companies are picking up on the Fall “pumpkin spice” craze, with $300 million in sales every year (man, people like their lattes). When it comes to the real thing, we spend $150 million annually, with over 50,000 acres of land dedicated to farming pumpkins (so that teenagers can kick them). California is one of the top five producers of the gourd, and an unusually hot, dry year in the middle of an extreme drought has severely impacted that production.
Right now the average pumpkin size you’ll find when you head to the pumpkin patch in California is about ten pounds. A lot of farms are hoping to get larger pumpkins driven down from Oregon, not just to add size variety, but because a hot summer caused most of the California pumpkins to ripen early and wither on the vine before October rolled around. An increase in insects is eating away what’s left.
“We have a lot of squash bugs out here and that’s a big problem,” said [local farmer] Doug Perry. “They’re looking for moisture, for water.”
If you were looking to finally cross “Giant Lighted Pumpkin Mural” off your bucket list, you’re out of luck. Not unless you want to carve three times as many very small pumpkins to achieve the same effect.
There might not be a Great Pumpkin on the West Coast this year, everyone.