Illinois is the top pumpkin-producing state in the
U.S., says Ron Wolford, University of Illinois Extension
“In 2018, Illinois pumpkin farmers produced an estimated 500 million
pounds of pumpkins,” he says. “The town of Morton claims to be the
Pumpkin Capital of the World, with 82% of the world's canned pumpkin
Although jack-o’-lantern pumpkins are edible, other squash varieties
have better texture for making pies, soups, and breads. The world's
largest pumpkin pie was made at the New Bremen, Ohio, Pumpkin Fest
in 2010. The pie was 20 feet in diameter and weighed 3,699 pounds.
Pumpkins are grown on every continent except Antarctica. The largest
pumpkin on record was grown in 2016 and weighed 2,624 pounds.
Tips for selecting the perfect pumpkin for carving
Choose a pumpkin with a stem at least 1 to 2 inches long. Never
carry it by the stem.
Select a pumpkin with a flat bottom, so it will stand upright.
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Avoid pumpkins with holes, cuts or soft spots. These areas will
Use the thumbnail test. Press your thumbnail into the pumpkin, if your nail
makes a scratch in the pumpkin, do not select.
Color is also important. Light-colored pumpkins are easier to
carve because the skin is not as hard as darker ones, but they will not keep as
Before carving or display, wash the pumpkin with warm water and let it dry. The
pumpkin will last longer in a cool place. After carving, coat the inside of the
pumpkin and the cuts with petroleum jelly. A pumpkin cut for Halloween will last
seven to 10 days depending on weather conditions.
Avoid using candles to light a pumpkin because the heat will cook the flesh,
shortening its lifespan.
For more information about pumpkins, check out the Illinois Extension website
Pumpkins and More at web.extension.
[SOURCE: Ron Wolford, Horticulture
Educator, Illinois Extension]