Tricks for perfect pumpkin picking

Steve Reiners, professor of horticulture at Cornell University and pumpkin expert shares some tips on how to pick the perfect pumpkin for the Halloween season.


Reiners says:

“The drought of 2016 certainly made growing any crop a challenge in New York state this summer. Luckily for us, pumpkins tend to be very deep rooted and were able to find water better than some other plants. But even with that advantage, some fields were stressed and we see that the size of the pumpkins may be a little smaller this year.


“The dry weather kept diseases to a minimum so the quality of the fruit is fantastic. Fruit have ripened early and have wonderful color.


“As far as selection, you can choose from tiny pumpkins that weigh less than a pound to goliaths that come in well over 100 pounds. Whatever size you choose, look for ones that have a nice sturdy stem. A soft stem could indicate a pumpkin prone to rotting. Hard bruises that have callused over are usually okay, but stay away from fruits that have soft spots. A pumpkin will continue to ripen once harvested, so it’s fine to choose one that is not fully ripe.


“Try to buy from local growers. Yields for other crops have been reduced by drought and farmers are counting on pumpkin sales to help them get through a difficult year.


“With such good quality pumpkins this year, they can easily last until Halloween. Try to keep them from freezing to enhance storage life. If you plan to make a Jack-o’-lantern, wait to cut it until a few days before Halloween. Once cut, the pumpkin will only last a few days.”