Earth Gauge Tip of the Week: Bumper Crop of Pumpkins

Reader Contribution by Earth Gauge
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Extreme heat and drought over the summer took their toll on many food crops — but there is an abundance of pumpkins in many places for the fall season. Why? Pumpkins are one of few crops that do well during drought conditions. Lack of rain in many places this year actually protected the pumpkins from rot and mildews that thrive with too much moisture. Pumpkin farmers were able to better control how much water their pumpkin crops received with irrigation, leading to a good crop yield.

Viewer Tip:  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.

A few more fun pumpkin facts:
•   80 percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available in October.
•   Pumpkins are 90 percent water.
•   Pumpkins can weigh less than a pound to over 1,000 pounds. The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,140 pounds!

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(Sources: American Farm Bureau Federation. “Farmers Anticipate a Bumper Pumpkin Crop.”; Purdue University Cooperative Extension. “Despite Drought, Pumpkin Crop Looks Strong and Healthy.”; University of Illinois Extension. “Pumpkins and More: Pumpkin Facts.” Image courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services)