Pumpkins are a small but important warm-season crop in Mississippi. Demand for pumpkins peaks at Halloween, although consumer demand continues through the remainder of fall. Mississippi growers must plant in July to be ready for this market window. Because of environmental conditions during the growing season, producers battle heat, humidity, and often extended rain, which all contribute to disease problems. Fungal diseases can reduce yields when not managed properly.
In early 2016, 27 Mississippi pumpkin growers were registered with Mississippi Market Maker, an Internet mapping tool that connects food producers with consumers in the U.S. Pumpkin acreage is scattered across the state, with no particular region laying claim to the majority of the crop. State producers grow an estimated 500 to 600 acres of pumpkins annually. Prices fluctuate widely with the market and size of the pumpkins.
Summer weather allowed Mississippi pumpkin growers to have a good harvest, but there still are not enough pumpkins grown in the state to meet fall demand for this colorful crop.
Pumpkins are a minor agricultural crop in Mississippi, but demand increases every year as consumers use them mostly for decoration.
Casey Barickman, Mississippi State University Extension Service vegetable specialist and Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station researcher, said the state has an estimated 500 to 600 acres of pumpkins.
Most of the time I consider myself a person who exercises self-control. But take me to the pumpkin patch and I lose all reason. So many colors, shapes, and textures! Tiny pumpkins! HUGE pumpkins! I don’t want just one of each, I want multiples of everything available.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi's October weather has offered more than enough of the most vital tonic pumpkins need for growth: full sunlight.
But the state has lacked another key element: water. Fortunately, the majority of the state’s pumpkin fields are irrigated, so the ongoing drought has had little effect on this year’s plentiful harvest.
However, nonirrigated pumpkin acreage has seen better days, said Casey Barickman, an assistant professor at the Mississippi State University North Mississippi Research and Extension Center in Verona.