Indiana pumpkin producers overall were happy with production yield and prices this year, even with "two seasons" of drastically differing weather during the summer, a Purdue University plant pathologist says.
Dan Egel said it was an average year for pumpkin production, with the first half of the season wet and the second half dry.
"The first half of the summer was good for providing moisture for the pumpkins, and most pumpkins are not irrigated," Egel said. "In the second half of the season, some of the pumpkins on well-drained land lost yield because of the dry weather."
The wet weather brought disease problems to some pumpkin fields, particularly Phytophthora blight, which can kill plants and cause fruit rot. The disease largely was held in check, however, when the weather turned dry.
Consumers should not have a problem finding good-quality Indiana pumpkins. Egel said that when picking out a pumpkin, shoppers should look for one that doesn't have any soft spots, which could lead to rot. They can do that by running their hands over the pumpkin to feel for them.
A healthy pumpkin's stem should be as thick and green as possible, rather than thin and brown. A green stem indicates a fresher pumpkin; a brown stem indicates the pumpkin was harvested too long ago.
"All pumpkins are unique," Egel said. "Don't be afraid to buy a pumpkin with an odd shape or bumpy exterior. If you like the way it looks, take it home."