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.
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.
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi pumpkin growers live for conditions like they have seen in 2015.
RAYMOND -- Pumpkins are popping up on porches across Mississippi, but some growers had trouble getting them there.
Many Mississippi pumpkin farmers experienced heavy disease pressure and a delayed harvest due to frequent summer rains.
Growers planted more acres this year, but harvested fewer pumpkins than usual, said Stanley Wise, Union County agriculture and natural resource enterprise and community development agent with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi’s pumpkins have experienced something of a holiday miracle with one of their best seasons ever.
David Nagel, horticulturist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said 2013 has been the best year for pumpkins since he started working in the state about 25 years ago. Mississippi growers are producing more and larger pumpkins than their competitors in states to the north.