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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Pick Perfect Pumpkins for Halloween

LAS CRUCES -- Halloween is just around the corner. Get out your pumpkin-carving tools and pick the perfect pumpkin for your jack-o'-lantern.


"Halloween just isn't Halloween without a jack-o'-lantern," said George Dickerson, horticulture specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

When selecting the perfect pumpkin for carving, consider its size, shape and color. To really get into the spirit of things, Dickerson suggests visiting a farm where pumpkins are grown and allowing children to pick their own. Hauling the pumpkin in from the patch can really set the mood for Halloween, he said.

"The variety of pumpkin plays a major role in what it will look like," Dickerson said. 'Howden' is one of the most popular commercial varieties, because it's relatively large and uniform, and has good color. 'Ghost Rider' is somewhat smaller, but very symmetrical with excellent color.

Pumpkins also are popular with home gardeners. If you're into giant pumpkins, try 'Big Max' or 'Big Moon.' "Unfortunately, these vines will take up most of your garden," Dickerson said. On a smaller scale, 'Jack-B-Little' produces very small pumpkins that make nice table decorations.

Other good varieties for the garden include 'Jack-O-Lantern,' which has small- to medium-sized pumpkins, and 'Triple Treat,' which can be used for carving and pies. "This variety's seeds also make an excellent snack when roasted," Dickerson added.

"The pumpkin crop is pretty good this year," Dickerson said. "Wholesale prices are between 6.5 and 7.5 cents per pound. If you pick pumpkins in the field from a local grower, they may cost $2 to $8 apiece."