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Zach Davis

Zach Davis

Fall is here and so is the abundance of crops that come with it. While Texas is known for its ability to produce crops such as cotton, corn and wheat, we often forget that Texas has its own pumpkin growing capital in Floydada, located on the High Plains of the Llano Estacado in West Texas.

According to Texas A&M University’s Aggie Horticulture, Texas is the fourth-leading state in commercial pumpkin production, generating $2.4 million for farmers, which equates to an economic impact of $7.4 million in the state.

About 90 percent of the 5,000 to 8,000 acres of pumpkins planted in Texas each year is done in the West Texas region, or more so, in areas with monthly average temperatures of 60 to 80 degrees and low humidity.

AgriLife Extension Service’s vegetable specialist Russell Wallace helps harvest 2,500 acres of pumpkins by hand in late September and said this often yields 15 to 30 tons per acre.

In addition to the impact that pumpkins have on the economy, they are also good for your health and contain many nutrients.

Floydada pumpkins

Mike Jones unloads pumpkins from Floydada at the Dallas Farmers Market in a 2004 photo. The town of Floydada in West Texas calls itself the “Pumpkin Capital of Texas.”

According to Jenna Anding, professor and extension specialist for Texas A&M’s Department of Nutrition and Food Science, pumpkins are a good source of dietary fiber and high in a powerful antioxidant known as beta carotene. Consuming this antioxidant can help reduce the risk for several chronic diseases including heart disease and certain types of cancer.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s nutrition facts, a half-cup of unsalted pumpkin contains:

  • 1.10 grams of protein
  • 2.7 grams of fiber
  • 0.17 grams of fat
  • 0 grams of cholesterol
  • 8.09 grams of carbohydrates
  • 3.6 grams of dietary fiber
  • 60 milligrams of vitamin C
  • 19,065 international units of Vitamin A (which includes beta carotene)
  • 42 total calories

For many of us, pumpkins mean pumpkin pie. However, AgriLife Extension Service’s Dinner Tonight has developed several healthy recipes that include pumpkin as the main ingredient, including a pumpkin puree recipe that is made from scratch. To find more pumpkin recipes from Dinner Tonight, visit dinnertonight.tamu.edu and enter “pumpkin” in the search field.

ZACH DAVIS is the agriculture and natural resources extension agent with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. He can be reached at 940-349-2889 or via email at zadavis@ag.tamu.edu.

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