What Produce Digs Dry Weather?

Pumpkins, photographed in Canada.

Pumpkins are one of the few crops that thrive in dry weather conditions. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This summer saw drought devastate crops from one side of the country to the other.  Farmers from the mid-Atlantic thru the Midwest and down into the southwestern states watched as their corn withered, their peanuts failed to prosper, and the cost of feed for their livestock went higher and higher.  Across the agricultural industry, this year has been more bane than boon.   There is one crop, however, that is thriving despite such desolate, dry weather conditions, pumpkins.

Fall just wouldn’t be the same without these fabulous and festive orange orbs that decorate our tables, windowsills, and porches.   Fortunately for us and our fall festivities, pumpkins do well when it’s dry.  This may be one reason they grow so well here in Arizona.  In a recent news report, the American Farm Bureau Federation explains why the drought isn’t having the same effect on the pumpkin crop this year as it is having on so many other crops.

It turns out that pumpkins can actually thrive in drought conditions because dry weather provides a kind of natural protection from things like mold, fungus, and other diseases that impact pumpkins.  By creating conditions that are inhospitable to these pumpkin-killers, the drought has enabled farmers across the country to get a high quality, high yield harvest.

It isn’t just the dry weather that is boosting this year’s pumpkin crop, however.  Pumpkins also have some characteristics that make them more drought resistant.  One of these characteristics is their root system.  When pumpkins are grown from seeds, which most are, they also produce extensive, deep reaching root systems.  These root systems are much more extensive than those supporting corn or soybeans and enable the pumpkin plant to access water the other plants can reach.

For farmers that grow pumpkins, the boost this season is a very welcome change as pumpkin production has had several tough years in a row.  While pumpkins thrive when things are dry, they flounder when conditions are too wet.  The past three seasons have been too wet in the Midwest to support a solid pumpkin crop which makes this year’s banner season even more welcome.

Here in Arizona, pumpkins can thrive in the dry weather as long as they have access to adequate water to grow.  The desert air is great for combating those common pumpkin problems that can move quickly and destructively through a pumpkin patch.  Pumpkins are in season right now across the state; check your local farmer’s market or the grocery store for these and other gourds that can offer up a range of seasonal pleasures.  Use them to create a fabulous locally sourced centerpiece for your fall table.  Place them on window sills or porches for some nice fall colors.  Bake up a traditional pumpkin pie or try one of our favorite pumpkin recipes below.

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