News Filed Under Pumpkins
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.
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.
Sept. 22 may be the first day of fall, but the best way to know summer is ending is to look at all the colorful pumpkin and gourd displays at local garden centers around the state.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Just in time for Halloween and Election Day, fall decorations are available in red, white and warty.
David Nagel, horticulturist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said shoppers for fall arrangements are finding much more than the traditional jack-o’-lantern pumpkins. Designer breeders are giving growers selections of pumpkins that come in a wide variety of colors, shapes, textures and sizes. Other new varieties offer disease resistance, which is especially important in Mississippi’s humidity.
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Mississippi pumpkin producers have their work cut out for them growing their colorful crop in the heat of summer so pumpkins are ready for Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations.
David Nagel, a horticulturist with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service, said producers must plant and grow the crop at the toughest time of the year so it can be harvested in a narrow window of opportunity.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Halloween is surrounded by mystery, and one of the greatest mysteries to Mississippi farmers is why anyone would want to grow pumpkins.
David Nagel, vegetable specialist with Mississippi State University’s Extension Service, said pumpkins are hard to grow in Mississippi because of the late-summer weather, but farmers are eternal optimists.
The changing season and cooler temperatures make now the perfect time to decorate the front porch with a fall harvest display. These displays are ideal for Halloween and add charm through the season.
Remember to use more than just pumpkins in your display. Pumpkins are a member of the cucurbit family, which also includes squashes and gourds. Pumpkins can be orange, red, yellow, white, blue, or striped. They can be miniature, flattened, necked, smooth, winged or warty.
By Karen Templeton
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Heavy rains in Mississippi and nationwide have decreased the number of pumpkins available for harvest, but not the quality of the pumpkins already pulled from the fields.
Pumpkins are popular in the fall for decorating and baking, but they are not a major crop for Mississippi, which only has a few commercial growers.
By Patti Drapala
MSU Ag Communications
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Pumpkins do not grab the headlines as a significant crop, but they fill a niche for many Mississippi farmers who need to supplement cash flow.
“It's best to spread your effort out with several different enterprises because your farm is a business, after all,” said pumpkin producer Clay Meeks of Tippah County, who also grows soybeans and strawberries, and raises cattle. “It helps to have money coming in at different times of the year.”
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's hot, dry summer reduced pumpkin yields to a ghost of what most growers hoped to see.
David Nagel, horticulture specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said about half of the state's growers produced an average crop and the other half had no crop at all.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Consumers may have trouble scaring up pumpkins for holiday decorations this fall.
David Nagel, horticulturist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said most growers whose fields were already dry at planting time chose not to plant any pumpkins this year if they did not have access to irrigation. Some growers with nonirrigated farms took the chance if their fields received some rain around the first of July and now are harvesting significantly reduced yields.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Hurricane Katrina robbed Mississippi of pumpkins on about 25 percent of the state's acreage, but the greatest losses may be markets in the coastal and New Orleans areas.
David Nagel, horticulturist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said the entire crop below Interstate 20 -- just under 100 acres -- was lost.
“The biggest blow from the hurricanes was not crop damage; it was the loss of market,” Nagel said.
By John Hawkins
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- This year's pumpkin harvest proved fruitful, despite challenges from insects, disease and rain.
One vegetable many wouldn't normally consider growing in Mississippi's sweltering fields is the pumpkin. Not many growers in the state raise pumpkins, and the few who do grow them usually produce only a few acres. For these growers, raising a successful harvest can have its challenges.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- For some Mississippi pumpkin growers, the real profits are found in creative marketing efforts, not just growing a good crop.
This year was Marshall Estes' first attempt at growing pumpkins on his family farm in Grenada County. His couple of acres may not make a major economic impact in the state's economy, but the sentiment behind it speaks volumes.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mother Nature pulled a cruel trick on growers of Mississippi's non-irrigated pumpkins, and the few treats available after the hot, dry summer will be found in patches with access to water.
David Nagel, vegetable specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said growers irrigate less than 100 acres of Mississippi's 480 commercial pumpkin acres.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Extremely high temperatures and dry conditions combined to deliver the knockout blow to Mississippi's 1999 commercial pumpkin crop.
Dr. David Nagel, horticulturist with Mississippi State University Extension Service, said after growers planted pumpkins from late June through July, rain almost never fell in the North Mississippi fields.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The success of the 1998 pumpkin crop depended on the availability of August rains or irrigation. For most growers, this wasn't their year.
Pumpkins grow best in dry and warm (but not hot) conditions, said Dr. David Nagel, Extension horticulturist at Mississippi State University.
"They are drought tolerant, but not that tolerant. They aren't desert plants," Nagel said. "Two of the state's pumpkin growers who irrigate had a great year, but the rest of the growers were lucky if they had an average year."