The pumpkin harvest is underway at a local farm after some snowy weather brought an end to an already strange growing season.
Farmer Tam Andersen, owner of Prairie Gardens and Adventure Farm, started harvesting her 10 acres of pumpkin plants—about 300,000 to 400,000 pounds of pumpkin—before the snow started falling on Wednesday (Sept.12).
Andersen said last week that between the dry summer, August wildfire smoke and recent overnight frost it’s been a wacky year for pumpkin farming. She was hoping for a couple weeks of nice weather to give the pumpkin patch time to catch up.
Instead she woke up Thursday morning to a crop sitting under about two inches of snow. Andersen and her crew are continuing the work of bringing all the pumpkins safely indoors. She has “bins and bins” of blue Australian pumpkins—the “best eating pumpkin ever”--already picked.
“They have a flesh that's about two inches thick and it’s sweet and it's a lot like eating a sweet potato."
For now the Halloween pumpkins are keeping warm under their blanket of snow.
“Two inches of snow can do so much good out in the field and just act like a layer of insulation,” Andersen said. “So we're hoping that's what keeps our pumpkins safe overnight.”
A soaking rainfall combined with freezing nighttime temperatures would have been worse, Andersen added.
The still-green Halloween pumpkins will be brought indoors into greenhouses to finish maturing in balmy temperatures.
“The skins will turn orange fairly quickly. And they'll be really nice and hard,” Andersen said.
Pumpkins with properly cured rinds can last for months.
“We've even had pumpkins last a full year once we've done this process."
The farm’s intricate corn mazes stood up well to the snowfall and will be open to visitors as planned.