A light frost won't interfere with harvesting, but Howell said a hard freeze will end both the pumpkin and tomato harvest season.
According to experts, harvesting can continue through a light frost, but a hard freeze – when temperatures drop below 27 degrees - can damage the surface of pumpkins, creating problems with fungus, bacterial growth and fruit rot.
“It’s not marketable at that point,” Howell said.
Pumpkins are more difficult to grow when compared to corn and soybeans, she said. The crops must constantly be inspected for diseases and insect damage.
“It is difficult to harvest, market and sell, but the reward on the other side of that is there is a potential for a greater return per acre,” she said. “You earn every bit of that, though.”
Loren Schmierer, owner of Stonycreek Farms, 11366 State Road 38 East, Noblesville, operates a pick-your-own pumpkin patch.
“We sell about 50,000 pumpkins a year,” he said.
Schmierer said last year was a bad year for growing pumpkins, but this year has been good.
“Last year it was so dry we had to start planting in our greenhouse,” he said. “It was a lot of work. We don’t want to do that again.”
Schmierer said it will be a good for year for picking pumpkins until the freeze hits. He noted that, some years when temperatures stay mild, some pumpkins in the fields are still fresh when people are cutting Christmas trees on his farm.
“It’s a freebie at that point,” he said of the pumpkins still in fields during December.
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Did you know? Pumpkin flowers are edible. In early colonial times, pumpkins were used as an ingredient for the crust of pies, not the filling. A hollowed out pumpkin shell was filled with milk, honey and spices before it was baked. Eighty percent of the pumpkin supply in the United States is available in October. Sources: www.livestrong.com, www.urbanext.illinois.edu and New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food.