Steve Reiners, professor at the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell University shares some tips on picking the perfect pumpkin for the Halloween season. New York is one of the country’s top producers of pumpkins. Last year the local crop was valued at more than $20 million.
Reiners says: “Our wet spring and early summer made life difficult for New York pumpkins and the farmers that grow them. Some fields were planted very late and the rains caused huge challenges with plant diseases. Luckily, our beautiful warm and dry late summer produced the perfect conditions to ripen what has turned into a fantastic crop. Although our quality is great this year, don’t wait too long to buy, as we may not have quite as many due to some fields not getting planted.
“As far as selection, you can choose from tiny pumpkins that weigh less than a pound to goliaths that come in well over 100 pounds. Whatever size you choose, look for ones that have a nice sturdy stem. If the stem is soft, it could indicate that the pumpkin is prone to rotting. Hard bruises are usually okay, but stay away from fruits that have soft spots. A pumpkin will continue to ripen once harvested, so it’s fine to choose one that is not fully ripe.
“A pumpkin bought now can easily last until Halloween. Try to keep them from freezing to enhance its storage life. If you plan to make a Jack-o’-lantern, wait to cut it until a few days before Halloween. Once cut, the pumpkin will only last several days.”