October is Virginia Pumpkin Month
Everywhere you turn, pumpkin is on the menu—pumpkin coffees, pumpkin ales, pumpkin breads and more. Last year, Americans spent more than $300 million on pumpkin-flavored products, according to market research from Nielsen. With all the excitement surrounding this fall favorite, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) encourages consumers to pick up real, Virginia Grown pumpkins this season too.
Virginia is home to approximately 200 pumpkin growers with about 3,000 acres of wholesale pumpkins valued at more than $6 million, according to the Virginia Pumpkin Growers’ Association. In addition, many pick-your-own pumpkin farms sell directly to the consumer. An increasing number of Virginia farmers have effectively utilized the state’s favorable environment for growing pumpkins, taking advantage of higher elevations and cooler temperatures to produce a high-value crop that consumers enjoy.
The Commonwealth’s farmers have been harvesting pumpkins for three or four weeks now and will continue to pick for another week or two. Pumpkins are grown across the state, with most of the commercial pumpkin production in Southwest Virginia. Actual conditions may vary slightly by region, but farmers are reporting a good growing season with excellent color.
Virginia Grown pumpkins are available at grocery stores, markets, pick-your-own farms and roadside stands. As we head into the peak pumpkin season, consumers should find plenty of pie pumpkins, squash, gourds, mini pumpkins and other specialty varieties of every size, shape and color for carving or cooking.