2010 Pennsylvania pumpkins smaller due to low rainfall

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

A hot, dry summer this year may have affected pumpkin crops in some regions of Pennsylvania, but that doesn't mean consumers will have trouble finding the right gourd for their Halloween jack-o-lanterns, according to a Penn State horticulture specialist.

"This year's pumpkin crop in Pennsylvania is not a record-breaker by any means," said Mike Orzolek, professor of vegetable crops in the College of Agricultural Sciences. "This season's pumpkins may be smaller than in previous years, and the size differences could be especially noticeable in the medium-to-large-size pumpkins that range from 18 to more than 25 pounds."

Orzolek blames the smaller fruit on the dry weather that Pennsylvania experienced much of the summer. "Pumpkin size will vary across the state, depending on how dry it was in different regions and how much irrigation was applied during the growing season," he said. "So areas of the state that have seen a lack of water over the summer can anticipate seeing smaller jack-o-lanterns this Halloween."

Yet despite these smaller sizes, the Pennsylvania pumpkin market will see high demand. The state ranks as the second-largest pumpkin grower in the country, with approximately 8,000 acres planted. Orzolek noted that Pennsylvania growers ship many of the festive fruit across state borders.

 "The quality of the pumpkins this year should be anywhere from good to excellent, with most pumpkins of healthy color and desirable shape," he said. "Consumers can expect considerable uniformity in crop quality throughout the entire state. There should be at least one pumpkin at any market that most any consumer will find is just right for them."