COLUMBIA, Mo. — The wet summer could be to blame for a shortage in the pumpkin supply for Missourians this year.

With excessive rains striking the area, farmers found it difficult to get crops in the ground, and the story was no different for pumpkin farmers. According to those in the field, this year’s weather pattern was simply too wet to get the pumpkins in the ground and keep them from drowning.

pumpkinsWith higher prices for the fall season, some pumpkin buyers might be looking to have it serve a double purpose.

“Really, if you carve it and use it as a jack-o-lantern, it probably shouldn’t be cooked,’ said Tammy Roberts, nutrition specialist with the University of Missouri Extension.

Roberts said carving into the pumpkin for decoration will accelerate rotting, making the pumpkin inedible in the future. But for those looking to get a double use out of the gourd, other options exist.

“If you want to buy a large pumpkin and paint it with non-toxic paints for the Halloween holiday, you can then cook any pumpkin that you buy,” Roberts explained.

This year’s pumpkin prices, especially in the Show-Me State, were largely driven by a difficult farming season across the Midwest. Those able to get pumpkins in the ground on time found it difficult to keep the plants alive.

Horticulture specialist with the MU Extension David Trinklein, said this could be the year pumpkin cooking becomes a popular trend.

“I would be willing to venture that 99 percent of all pumpkins never see the inside of an oven,” said Trinklein. “It’s a shame.”

Pumpkins are a staple in the American Halloween, used as jack-o-lanterns since the beginning.

“Pumpkins have been grown in the Americas for probably 5,000 years, and it was widely used as a food source for Native Americans,” Trinklein stated.

According to Trinklein, the pumpkin was not the original jack-o-lantern.

“[On] all Hallow’s Even in Europe, grotesque faces were carved into hallowed out turnips with a candle put in and taken about to, oh I don’t know, scare of the undead,” said Trinklein. “For whatever reason, that morphed into a pumpkin in the states.”

Even though prices for the fall season have gone up, neither Trinklein, nor Roberts, see the purchase of pumpkins going down anytime soon.