Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on October 11, 1996. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Consumers Try To Scare Up More Pumpkins
STARKVILLE -- Despite an ideal growing season, most of Mississippi's traditional pumpkin producers will not be marketing their crop in 1996. The reduction doesn't stem from virus problems this year, but viruses in past years.
Dr. David Nagel, extension horticulturist at Mississippi State University, said growers have reduced the state's crop about 100 acres annually for the last several years. Most of this year's 375 acres are in smaller, noncommercial fields.
"Most pumpkins in Mississippi stores come from Texas, Indiana and Illinois," Nagel said. "Our neighboring states are not significant pumpkin producers either."
Marshall County is Mississippi's leading pumpkin county with about 65 mostly-commercial acres.
"Pumpkin fields had some virus and midseason insect problems, but rains were spread out and helped the crop along nicely," said Dickie Rhea, extension agriculture agent in Marshall County.
"Timing is everything for marketing pumpkins. Too early and they won't be fresh; too late and you miss the strongest demand," Rhea said. "Growers timed Marshall County pumpkin's maturity just right this year."
Nagel said consumers can expect to pay $3 to $5 for Halloween pumpkins. Anyone wanting to cook pumpkin may want to wait until after Oct. 31, when prices drop.
Dr. Barbara McLaurin, extension human nutrition specialist at MSU, said pumpkins
are economical, nutritious and versatile vegetables.
"Choose a pumpkin with no soft spots, cuts or blemishes in the rind and one that is
heavy for its size," McLaurin said.
Pumpkins will last about a month in a 55 to 60 degree location. Lower temperatures
can injure the produce. Stored above 60 degrees, pumpkins gradually lose moisture and
"This fall vegetable is a source of fiber, and vitamins A and C. Pumpkins also are
low in fat; a one-half cup serving contains only 31 calories," McLaurin said.
The nutritionist encouraged people interested in canning pumpkin to contact county
extension home economists for recommendations.
A growing trend across the state is smaller, U-pick fields. These often appeal to
schools and parents who bring young children to see pumpkins growing and to pick their
Dr. Rick Snyder, extension horticulturist in Crystal Springs, said pick-your-own fields
add to the ease of growing this relatively low-effort vegetable.
"Pumpkins don't require pruning or staking. Growers may only need to do is some
spraying during the growing season," Snyder said.
Mississippians can visit the pumpkin patch at the Truck Crops Branch Experiment
Station in Crystal Springs during the upcoming Fall Garden Day from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on