Only treats: Warm, dry weather good for local pumpkin crop

It’s been an unusually good year for local pumpkin crops and it has a lot to do with the recent warm, dry weather.

Many crops do better in dry weather because it allows farmers control how much water their plants receive, which means foliage stays dry and free of disease.

Gerald Brust, integrated pest management specialist at the University of Maryland’s extension office, said dry weather usually benefits the pumpkin crop, but sometimes, too much dry weather leads to less foliage.

“Then, the pumpkins are going to begin to go down in quality because they can’t finish themselves, so to speak,” Brust said.

Most pumpkins were harvested in September, Brust said.

Farmers harvesting this month are cutting it close, because the later the harvest, the greater chance there is that some pumpkins may run out of water on the vine. However, those harvesting now are still likely to see a good crop, since 2019 has been an unusually good year.

“You’re not going to have as many pumpkins per vine,” Brust said about late harvests. “But your quality is going to be pretty good.”

Since it’s been such a good pumpkin season, there’s a good chance of finding a great pumpkin. But be sure to take your time shopping, and know what to look for:

“What you want is a rind that’s so hard, that if you press your fingernail into it, it does not leave an impression,” Brust said. A soft rind means the pumpkin could be susceptible to rotting.

Overall, pumpkin quality is expected to be good, which means it’s safe to keep those pumpkin recipes coming.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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