Thanksgiving dinner, for many Iowans, wouldn’t be complete without pumpkin pie. State Agriculture Department officials say pumpkin production this year was the best it’s been for many seasons.
Specialty crops expert Maury Wills says more than 900 acres of pumpkins were planted across the state. “We see pumpkins moving through you pick operations, for example, apple orchards do have pumpkins there. We also see more local growers getting the product out to grocery stores,” Wills said. A small number of Iowa producers grow organic pumpkins to be made into pie filling.
According to Wills, the number of local growers who allow customers to pick their own produce has tripled in the last three decades. “When you can go out and actually pick the pumpkin off the ground, put it in a wagon and haul it up to the apple barn and pay for it there, it gives the family a really good experience up close on the farm,” Wills said.
Although it was a banner year for pumpkin production statewide, some growers in north-central and northeast Iowa lost their crops due to flooding.
A list of pumpkin patches around the state can be found on the Iowa Department of Agriculture’s website.
Reporting by Pat Blank, Iowa Public Radio