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Orange pumpkins here early this year

Galesville, Wis. - While the reds, yellows and oranges are popping up on trees as a sign of fall, the leaves aren't the only things starting to change color.

Pumpkins are turning orange ahead of schedule this year.

This year's warm winter, early spring and a long standing drought is playing a factor into how pumpkin crops are growing this year, but for the owner of Ferguson's Morningside Orchards, Tom Ferguson, the key to growing pumpkins that not even Charlie Brown can resist, is timing.

"Surprisingly pumpkins have done really, really good," said Ferguson. " [We'd] Like to see them get ready about the third week in September, but here we are, most of them are getting ready right now."

That's thanks in part to the unusual growing season this year, but there's also a different technique to growing pumpkins.

"The apple crop, for example, that was out there early and there wasn't a whole lot you could do once it had come out," said Steve Huntzicker, agricultural agent. "At least with the pumpkins, it's an annual where you control when you put it out. So you've got a little ability to work with it I think."


And for Ferguson, it was all about timing.

"We waited until the first week of June before we planted them," said Ferguson. "The biggest scare with pumpkins was the drought, and we just got lucky where we got just enough water at just the right times to where they turned out good."

Normally in early September, only about 20 percent of Ferguson's pumpkin crop will have started changing color, but this year, more than half of his pumpkin crop is already turning orange.

So will it last until Halloween? It depends on how well you take care of them.

"They should be fine," said Ferguson. "Store it in a shady spot -- room temperature, shady spot for about 10 days. "That will harden the pumpkin, and then you can put it in your garage and it will be good for two to three months."

Another tip to keeping your pumpkins healthy longer, hold off on carving them. Pumpkins are only good for about five to 10 days once you carve them.

Now the hard part is just getting the word out that pumpkin season is here early.

"I think Charlie Brown, you know, the great pumpkin is alive and well," said Ferguson. "So we're hoping that the Charlie Brown fans come out and get some pumpkins."

Ferguson owns about 20 acres of pumpkins throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota. He said he's planning on selling about 4,000 to 5,000 pumpkins this year.

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