Bumper crop of pumpkins expected

Published 10:47 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Virginia farmers will sell more than 67 million pounds of pumpkins this year, the state department of agriculture announced Tuesday.

The value of the pumpkins to the growers is estimated to be around $10 million, The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said.

“The 2009 harvest has produced exactly what we hope for in pumpkins,” said Todd P. Haymore, VDACS commissioner, in a press release. “They have beautiful color and good size.”

The estimate is based on the 3,000 acres planted at 1,500 sellable pumpkins per acre, with an average weight of 15 pounds each.

Haymore said many buyers this year are especially interested in specialty pumpkins, such as the giant varieties, different-colored ones and “scary-looking ones” with bumps and veining on them. One new variety should especially interest Suffolk residents — the “peanut pumpkin,” so named because it appears to have peanuts growing out of its flesh.

“This is the year of the specialty pumpkin,” Haymore said. “Many consumers are interested in the big or giant varieties, 50 or even 100 pounds and up. Regardless of what type of pumpkin you choose, I encourage all Virginians to buy Virginia grown pumpkins this year, and of course we welcome out-of-state buyers, too.”

Haymore noted, however, that the basic orange pumpkin still is the preferred choice for fall decorating.