Drought hurts local pumpkin growth: How to ensure your decorative ones last
We've heard from viewers on social media that you're anxious to get into the fall spirit.
Unfortunately, the hot, record-breaking temperatures are putting a damper on things this September.
If you plan on purchasing pumpkins soon for fall decorations, there are few tips to help make them last longer.
The hot and especially dry weather since July has hurt McDonald Farm's pumpkin patch in Sale Creek, TN, limiting any kind of pumpkin growth. However, they have worked hard with other suppliers to make sure you still have pumpkin choices this season.
"They're just not growing. They could not survive without the water. We've grown some vines, and we've been able to maintain them just because we've put water on them. We've transported tanks of water out to them," Art McDonald, Farm Manager of McDonald Farm explained of the rough conditions.
On the vines, you will find a sparse number of smaller green pumpkins that have not ripened to their normal orange color.
Instead, the farm will be staging pumpkins among the vines in the patch.
"This year we're having to import pumpkins. Usually we buy local, just about everything local. This year, we're getting pumpkins out of Michigan," said McDonald.
They expect to bring in 48,000 pounds of pumpkins this year to meet the demand.
They have magic lanterns, which are 16 to 24 pound pumpkins, smaller pie pumpkins that are given out to kids on field trips, and a few larger goliath pumpkins.
Before buying one from them or a storefront, there are a few steps to follow to make sure it lasts through Halloween and the fall season.
"Usually, I say just get the pumpkin that looks like what you want to have. This year, kind of look at the stem a little bit and make sure it's firmly attached. If it's not, then the pumpkin is probably not going to give you good service," McDonald recommended.
Next, keep the pumpkin indoors until temperatures cool off some.
"Don't leave them in the garage unless the garage is air conditioned. Take them into the house. They need cooler weather. This heat that we are having now is not a pumpkins friend at all," advised McDonald.
If you put a pumpkin out in the heat now, it will likely only last 2 to 3 weeks.
For carving jack-o’-lanterns, McDonald has one word for you.
"Wait, wait, wait. Wait, four or five days before Halloween before you start cutting them unless the weather really turns, and we get nice and cool and normal fall."
In addition to pumpkins, McDonald Farm in Sale Creek has pony rides, a hay maze, and lots of other fair activities.
They will be open the next 5 weekends from September 27 to October 27. Saturdays from 10am to 7pm and Sundays noon to 7.