Tip Sheets

Pandemic pumpkin picking: 2020 is vibrant, weird and warty

Media Contact

Lindsey Knewstub

Stephen Reiners, professor of horticulture at Cornell University and a New York state vegetable industry expert, says summer conditions were perfect for growing pumpkins and pickers can expect some of the most vibrant colors in this year’s crop.

Stephen Reiners

Professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science

A video of Reiners offering advice for how to pick the perfect pumpkin, the best time to carve jack-o-lanterns and the top pumpkins to use for cooking can be found here: https://youtu.be/mbYtebnYLK8 and downloaded here: https://cornell.box.com/v/ReinersPumpkins.

“There are plenty of pumpkins to choose from this year as the summer was just about perfect for growing them. I don’t think I have ever seen the colors so vibrant as what I’ve seen in this vintage year. A great way to support your local farmer, especially in this difficult year, is to go out and visit their farm.

“Pumpkin growers are following all state guidelines to keep their customers safe. Obviously, one of the safest places to be is outside in a big field where it’s easy to socially distance. Of course, growers are asking folks to keep their masks on and use hand sanitizer, which is usually provided.

“An uncut pumpkin can easily last through Thanksgiving but things go south once you carve the pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern. Bacteria and fungi that normally can’t get through the thick skin now have easy access and start the rotting process. Add a tablespoon of bleach to a quart of water in a spray bottle and spray the inside of the pumpkin thoroughly and all cut surfaces daily. This will slow the rot a bit. Another option: cut the pumpkins from the bottom and leave the stem end intact. Sit the pumpkin on top of a candle and moisture flows out the bottom rather than accumulating in a mushy mess.

“The trend is continuing for odder and odder pumpkins and gourds. Weird, warty ones with a lots of colors are popular but even with these new types, people always buy a few old fashioned jack-o-lantern types.”

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.