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Report: Pumpkin season looks good

Thursday, October 20, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE -- Despite the wet spring and hot summer, consumers should be able to choose just the right pumpkin for their fall festivities this year, a Purdue Extension plant pathologist said.

Although the wet spring delayed planting for many pumpkin producers this year, the worst of the weather ended by mid-June, when most growers typically finish with planting, Dan Egel said.

And while many plants failed to begin fruiting in the hot and dry summer, recent cooler temperatures allowed them to catch up.

"Although Indiana pumpkin producers did run into some weather problems, pumpkins are healthy and average size," Egel said.

Most Indiana pumpkins were not damaged by disease this year, Egel said. Producers often fear downy mildew, but it did not appear in Indiana until late in the growing season and was only found in a few counties.

The most common disease to damage pumpkins is bacterial spot and although it is becoming harder to control each year, it does not affect all growers.

Advice Egel gives to consumers to keep pumpkins lasting longer is to choose one that is healthy by avoiding those with soft spots, large discolored areas and fungi because these often lead to faster rotting.

They should look for a stem that is still green, indicating that the fruit is fresher and was probably grown nearby.

Those planning to carve the pumpkin should do so only a few days before they intend to dispose of it, as it will rot quickly after it is carved.

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