Mother Nature wasn't kind to last year’s pumpkin crop. The cool summer weather meant that good pumpkins were in short supply. And this year, one concern was the dry weather. However, the 2010 pumpkin crop is much better than last year’s.
Like all crops, pumpkins require rain, but the healthy balance between too much and too little is sometimes tough to come by.
“The pumpkins got off to a pretty good start, we had lots of rain, they came up pretty good in most areas,” said Dave Frushour, of Thistleberry Farm.
July, August and September brought dry weather to Michiana and as a result, the pumpkins on Dave's 7 acre plot are smaller than he had hoped.
“Pumpkins require and they really recommend that they get about an inch or so of water a week, and we haven't had any where near that much. The pumpkins develop but especially your bigger pumpkins they don't get to the size you would like them to be,” said Furshour.
To help with the dry weather some growers, like John Matthys, with Matthys farm, irrigate their crop.
“Pumpkins especially will sacrifice a lot size and things if they ever become under a stress situation. We are very fortunate that we have irrigation, so if it should start getting a little too dry we can water a little bit and keep that crop healthy and going on right through that dry period and the heat,” explained John Matthys. “This year we had a great crop…I think our crop was as good as it has been in a long time.”
While some pumpkins might be smaller than desired, the dryer weather has had a positive effect on the over all health of the gourds.
“There is a great selection of pumpkins with it being dry a lot of the mildews and things, it didn't seem that they effected the pumpkins as much. There is a really good crop this year, mainly in your really big pumpkins there seems like there is a little bit shorter supply in them. As far as yield I think it was above average yield this year in spite of the lack of rain,” said Frushour.
Even with the plentiful supply, Dave recommends that you get out and find that perfect pumpkin early.
“Now is good time,” promised Furshour. “Look for a good stem, a nice green hard stem, it just shows that is hasn't been effected by diseases and things like that. If it is shriveled you want to stay away from something like this. Usually with the softer stem it is going to rot earlier. All pumpkins will eventually rot, you don't want it to rot before October 31st.”
It seems like every little kid wants the biggest pumpkin they can find, so if you are looking for a large one, it might be a good idea to call ahead. Regardless of the weather, those are tougher to find towards the end of the month.
Happy pumpkin picking!