Pumpkin Harvest

Weather and Pumpkin Harvest

About 80% of the United States’ pumpkin supply is available in October, but pumpkin makes an appearance year-round in pies, breads and other foods. Weather can have a big impact on the yearly pumpkin harvest.

  • Wet and soggy: Too much rain can delay planting and cause crops to rot. Mildews, which thrive in wet conditions, can damage leaves and stems or kill pumpkin vines and fruits.
  • Hot and dry: Dry, hot weather can cause pumpkins to produce too many male blossoms and too few female blossoms, resulting in a smaller harvest. Lack of water during droughts can also result in smaller and lighter-weight pumpkins.
  • Chilly: An early freeze can kill pumpkins. And, chilly weather in the spring can prevent pumpkin blossoms from germinating. Why? Because bees – which carry pollen from plant to plant – don’t fly until the temperature is at least 55 degrees. Without bees and pollination, there are no pumpkins.

Weather and the Pumpkin Harvest
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If you are carving or cooking this year, put the whole pumpkin to use. If you don’t eat the seeds yourself, spread them outside as a snack for birds and squirrels.  And, instead of weighing down your trash bags and sending past-their-prime pumpkins to the landfill, put them to use in your garden.  Pumpkins can be added to compost piles, where they will decompose and add nutrients to your compost.

Sources:

  • The National Center for Appropriate Technology. 2010. “Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Marketing and Production.” Accessed October 15, 2015. https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/summaries/summary.php?pub=30.
  • University of Illinois Extension. 2015. “Pumpkins and More: Pumpkin Facts.” Accessed October 15. http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/pumpkins/facts.html.

 

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