This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
Conditions for growing pumpkins were poor in some areas of the United States
this year. The East and parts of the Midwest suffered heavy rains and extreme
heat. So the supply for sale has decreased, making prices higher than last
Still, many people are buying the large, round fruit. Pumpkins are
an important part of the American celebration of Halloween on October 31. Many
families visit farms or farmers markets so their children can pick out the
pumpkins they want. They remove the insides of the pumpkin and cut pieces from
the outside to make a face. Sometimes they place and light candles inside their
carved pumpkin faces. People place the pumpkins outside their homes or in their
Americans also use pumpkins for cooking, especially during the American
holiday of Thanksgiving in late November. Tradition says early settlers ate
pumpkin pie, or something similar to it. Pumpkins belong to the gourd family. They are related to melons,
cucumbers and squashes. Some people call pumpkins vegetables. But others,
including scientists, call them fruit. Pumpkins have hard skins and seeds in the
center. And they contain more Vitamin A than almost any other fruit.
People have grown pumpkins in North and Central America for thousands of
years. Pumpkins grow on vines or bushes. Most weigh only a few kilograms. But
some pumpkins grow to be huge.
A farmer from the state of Rhode Island recently won a competition with a
pumpkin that weighed 681 kilograms. It could be the largest in the world. Such
super pumpkins are often shown at agricultural fairs.
Pumpkins get their start when bees fertilize their flowers. The insects carry
reproductive material called pollen from the male to the female flowers. No
pumpkins will grow if the female flower is not pollinated at the right time.
People use pumpkin in pies, breads, cakes and other baked goods. Many
Americans also like to eat baked pumpkin seeds. Americans can also buy processed
pumpkin in cans.
However, experts say it is not a good idea to process fresh pumpkin at home
to use in the future because dangerous bacteria can develop. But whole pumpkins
can store well for weeks in a cool, dark place.
And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn
Watson. To read the next of this program and download audio, go to www.unsv.com.