STEPHEN REINERS: My name is Steve Reiners. I'm the professor and chair of horticulture here at Cornell University. My specialty is vegetable crops, so I work with a wide variety of them. And of course, this time of year, my favorite crop to work with is going to be pumpkins.
When you're going out to get your pumpkin a couple of things that you want to look for-- you want to have one that has a good stem or a handle, which is what we call this. And you can feel this one, and you can see how stiff that stem is. It's not really able to move very much, as compared to this one, which again, is more of a papery. It's actually falling apart in my hand. And the difference between these two is that some plant diseases, probably mildew, could get down into the stem, and this pumpkin might rot much sooner than this one that has this really good stem. So that's something you want to look for.
You also, of course, want to look to make sure that there's no soft spots on the pumpkin, when you're buying it. Again, if there are any soft spots, that's a plant disease. You don't want to bring that home. It will rot very quickly.
Now, once you do get the pumpkins home, if you leave them like this, without cutting them, without making a jack o'lantern, a good pumpkin like this can easily last through Thanksgiving. You can keep it outside. A light frost wouldn't bother the pumpkin. If it's a very, very deep freeze, you might want to bring those into the garage at that point. But again, they can last quite a while outside, if you're starting with a good material.
If you're making a jack o'lantern, though, be aware, that once you cut this pumpkin open and start cutting and cutting it like that, it will open it up for a lot of rots and disease to get in there. So once you carve that pumpkin, you probably only have about five to maybe seven days before it would just start to rot. So if you want that jack o'lantern for Halloween, then you want to do it just really a few days before Halloween, to make sure that that's going to be OK, and it will be really perfect for the holiday.
I have these sort of standard pumpkins. Again, these are relatively small. And if you wanted to buy a pumpkin for making a pie or a pumpkin bread, this is the type of pumpkin that you'd want to get. It's a small, what we call, a pie pumpkin. The large jack o'lantern type is not going to be the best for doing any cooking with. Again, they're bred to be ornamentals and not for eating.
But I've also got some other things here, too. And a lot of people-- I've got some things here that are gourds. And there are all different types that you can see. And some are absolutely beautiful and really stunning. And again, we see more and more growers growing these.
And this one, I've got this as an example, that's becoming very, very popular. It's a warted pumpkin. So it has all these wart-like parts on the fruit. And I've been working with pumpkins now for about 30 years, and it used to be, whenever we would see one little wart on a pumpkin, that pumpkin was unmarketable. Nobody wanted to buy it. Seed companies, breeders, were always very careful to make sure that they were breeding that trait out of their pumpkins.
And about 15 years ago, people started looking for this. And now I'm just amazed. When I go to a farm stand, when I go visit a grower, these have-- probably 25%, 30%, of all the pumpkins that they're growing have this sort of warty trait to it, as well. So that has been a huge change and one that we're seeing just in the last few years.
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Whether you're looking for an ornamental pumpkin, a pie pumpkin or a warted pumpkin, Steve Reiners, a professor at Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, can help you make the perfect selection.