Pumpkin season

Halloween is just around the corner and I am already seeing those bright orange pumpkins as I drive along the road.

Be sure to check your Farm Markets for the ideal jack-a-lantern. The local markets already have them for sale.

Hopefully you have attended the annual pumpkin festival in Barnesville this weekend and if not you still have today. This festival ends today at 6 p.m.

If you have squashes or pumpkins to harvest or store keep in mind the following tips: High-quality winter squashes and pumpkins are associated with maturity, so they should not be harvested until they are fully ripe. Fruits subjected to a hard frost will not keep, so harvest should be completed before cold weather.

A portion of the stem is usually left attached to the pumpkin or squash at harvest time. Halloween pumpkins are most attractive when a stem or “handle” is carefully allowed to remain.

Store only those fruit that are free of cuts, wounds, and insect or disease damage. Immediately after harvest, the fruit should undergo a ripening or curing process to harden the shell. A curing period of about two weeks at 75 to 85 degrees F with good circulation is desirable. Storage should then be at 50 to 70 degrees F with humidity between 50 and 70 percent.

Some interesting educational facts about pumpkins:

  • Total U.S. pumpkin production in 2006 was valued at $101.3 million.
  • The top pumpkin production states are Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California.
  • Pumpkins are considered a fruit (not vegetable).

Also, mark Oct. 12 on your calendars. This is the date for the Belmont County Fall Rubberneck Tour. The tour will be held near Centerville. Stops include the Pryor Farm Barn; Historic James Kinney Farmstead; Dysart Woods; and the Smith Township Fire Department.

This will be a great fall tour so be sure to make plans to attend. Brochures can be picked up at the Tourism Office, the Soil and Water Conservation Office and The Ohio State University Extension Office in St. Clairsville.