2007 Texas pumpkins on their way to market

Growers in Texas' largest pumpkin patch haven't yet sited the Great Pumpkin, but they haven't had much time to look for him. They are busy harvesting, processing and shipping a bountiful crop of decorative squash to wholesale and retail outlets.

"The 2007 crop is ample – yields are up and quality is good," said J.D. Ragland, Texas Cooperative Extension agriculture agent in Floyd County, the state's No. 1 pumpkin-producing county. "We're harvesting from about 900 acres this year. Timely rains and a cooler-than-normal growing season have pushed yields to 25,000 to 27,000 pounds per acre, up a bit from the 20,000-pound average we normally see.

"The quality of this year's crop is good across the board, from pie/baking pumpkins to jack-o-lanterns to miniature ornamentals to the huge Big Mac varieties. We'll be harvesting and shipping pumpkins into October, to wholesale and retail outlets across the country and statewide. Most of our crop goes east to the larger metropolitan areas in Texas, but we have one grower whose sales have reached as far as Japan."

Ragland reminds consumers to remember these qualities when selecting their 2007 harvest season pumpkins: look for uniform shape and bright color, and a long, fat stem.

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