Libby’s Select Dickinson Pumpkins are a special strain of pie pumpkin used by the Libby’s company for their canned pumpkin.
The pumpkins are grown on 4,000 acres around in Tazewell, Illinois and in four adjacent counties, with operations headquartered in Morton, Illinois.
Libby’s owns almost 90 percent of the North American market for canned pumpkin, and three-quarters of their production comes from Moreton.
Private farmers grow the pumpkins for Libby’s on their land, practising crop rotation, but Libby’s sends in its crew and equipment for the harvesting.
“According to the University of Illinois, 90 percent of all the pumpkins grown in the United States are raised within a 90-mile radius of Peoria, Illinois. Libby’s processing plant and cannery is slap bang in the middle of pumpkin country, in the town of Morton, and it contracts independent farmers to grow pumpkins on about eight square miles of land nearby, providing them with the brand’s proprietary seeds. The state’s second largest producer of canned pumpkin, supplying many private label products for supermarket own brands, Seneca Foods, is just a stone’s throw away.” Arumugam, Nadia. Why You Want Canned Pumpkin For A Better Pie, Not Fresh. Forbes Magazine. 19 November 2013.
The pumpkins are harvested mechanically, using machines that snip the pumpkins off the vines and line them up in a row to be picked up by a tractor with a conveyor belt collecting them into a truck. The pumpkins are delivered to the processing plant, washed, and then processed within 2 to 12 hours.
During the harvest, the factory processes 500,000 pumpkins a day.
The variety has an ideal taste and texture for pumpkin pies: “When cooked and pureed, the meat of the Dickenson is luscious, creamy, and naturally sweet- much like butternut squash.” Ibid.
In addition to having that great taste that consumers love, the variety is also “a dream for processors to work with. It has a thin skin, a much thicker, meatier layer of bright orange flesh than its ghoulish cousins and its center orifice is much smaller, rendering a higher proportion of saleable material.” Ibid.
90 percent of Libby’s tinned pumpkin is sold from October to January.
Libby’s acquired the rights to the “Libby’s Select Dickinson” pumpkin in 1929 from the Dickinson family who brought it from Kentucky in the early 1800s. Libby’s also bought the family’s canning plant.